Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) April 26, 2016 – Two Michigan lawmakers are planning to launch a nonprofit organization that will raise awareness and resources to benefit veterans.
State Rep. Tom Barrett, R-Potterville, and state Sen. David Knezek, D-Dearborn Heights, announced the formation of the Michigan Veterans Institute on March 2. They are collaborating on the project in an effort to help veterans gain access to health care and job opportunities, among other necessities.
“An organization that champions veterans’ causes and gives them a voice is a step in the right direction,” said Jim Fausone, a Michigan veterans attorney. “Veterans need assistance in many areas of life, whether it is reintegrating into civilian society or finding out how and where they can seek medical treatment.”
The institute aims to help provide veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder with service dogs. Another goal is to reduce veteran homelessness, a key issue in the state. Michigan was ranked second nationally for veteran homelessness in 2014. The Michigan Veterans Institute also hopes to facilitate a mentorship program to help veterans transition to civilian jobs.
According to the announcement, the institute will hold town hall meetings to hear from veterans about their needs and raise funds for groups working to benefit former service members. The Michigan Veterans Institute has been receiving funding from corporate partners. It will also rely on donations from individuals or nonprofits.
Both lawmakers are the first Iraq War veterans to serve in the Legislature. Their announcement to launch the Michigan Veterans Institute followed a recent audit that criticized the care of veterans at the state-run Grand Rapids Home for Veterans. The report cited staff shortages, mishandled abuse complaints and allegations of neglect.
“The institute will hopefully use the problems at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans to learn how to improve services for the state’s veterans and understand the type of care they need,” said Fausone.