Gov. Rick Snyder today issued an executive order that will help to better connect eligible veterans with their benefits and significantly improve customer service.
Executive Order 2013-2 creates the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency within the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. The governor announced the move during Wednesday's State of the State address.
"Michigan's veterans earned and deserve the best possible support ? and we need to make sure that they can get it," Snyder said. "With our state's recent accreditation by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and with a new agency solely dedicated to their needs, veterans will experience more efficient and effective delivery of services and support."
Michigan is home to more than 650,000 military veterans, which is the 11th largest population of veterans nationally. According to data provided by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Michigan veterans rank last, on a per-capita basis, as recipients of federal VA dollars for total veterans' benefits. Michigan needs to do a better job of making sure veterans are aware of those benefits and are getting the assistance they need and deserve.
The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency will serve as a centralized, coordinating unit in state government that will better connect veterans to services and benefits. This will include, but is not limited to, programs involving health care, education, and quality of life. A director will be appointed by the governor to head the agency.
The agency will modernize the delivery of services to veterans, including identifying efficiencies and removing redundancies in coordination with all other departments and agencies that currently are responsible for programs related to services for veterans. It will make recommendations to the governor regarding delivery of those services. The agency will also continue to support the operations of Michigan's State Veterans Homes.
"Michigan's veterans have unique needs and many services available to them," Snyder said. "The Veterans Affairs Agency will provide more coordinated, high-quality services that will make it easier for Michigan veterans to recognize and access the benefits and services."
The full text of EO 2013-2 may be read online at www.michigan.gov/snyder. Its effective date is March 20, which is the 10th anniversary of the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom.