As Memorial Day approaches, here’s what state has done for veterans

On Memorial Day we stop to remember the great sacrifices that our soldiers and their families have made in order to keep the rest of us safe. The brave men and women who give their lives in service to keep us safe and free deserve nothing less than our respect and honor.
As we reflect on their dedication to our country, I encourage everyone to also renew our commitment to assist our veterans serving now and who are returning home to their families and communities. As a member of the House Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, I have had the good fortune to meet with veterans throughout our community who have served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. I am humbled by their devotion to our country, and I am determined to ensure that state government responds to their needs.
I am pleased to share information with you on new bills that were recently signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder. House Bill 4037, now Public Act 27 of 2013, allows for a designation of veteran status on state-issued driver’s licenses. Senate Bill 219 which was substituted for my HB 4287, allows for a veteran’s designation on a state-issuaed identification card. I am glad that the Senate agreed that providing this designation was important for veterans, and I am pleased that the bill was passed and is now PA 28 of 2103.
Recently, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Jeff Barnes, director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, launched the Michigan Veterans Homeowners Assistance Program. This new program will provide financial assistance to Michigan military service members, veterans and their families who have struggled with foreclosure in recent years.
Federal regulators and court settlements have documented about 900 service members nationwide who were foreclosed upon in violation of the federal Service Members Civil Relief Act. Thousands of veterans were overcharged by their mortgage holders and others were forced into lengthy court battles to try to save their homes. MiVHAP will provide financial grant assistance to military service members — active, reserve, Air and Army National Guard and honorably discharged veterans — living or having lived in a home in Michigan for hardship related to the foreclosure crisis since 2006. Surviving spouses of Michigan military service members whose death occurred in combat since 2006 and currently face foreclosure challenges may also be eligible for financial assistance.
If you or someone you know is a veteran who would qualify for this program, I encourage you to apply for a MiVHAP grant. You can request applications and obtain more information by calling 517-284-5296 or by going to the DMVA website at www.michigan.gov/dmva, click on “Veterans Affairs” from the list on the left and then click on Michigan Veterans Homeowners Assistance Program from the list on the left. Requests by mail may be sent to: Michigan Veterans Trust Fund, MiVHAP, P.O. Box 30104, Lansing, MI 48909.
As always, war veterans in the Dearborn area in need of any kind of assistance can also contact the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department at 2881 Monroe St. by calling 313-277-1428. The Dearborn Allied War Veterans Council is also an excellent resource for our veterans.
This Memorial Day we honor our fallen soldiers, but I hope that we also always remember to take the time to thank the men and women who have served or who are serving for all of the sacrifices they have made to protect our freedom.
(State Rep. George Darany represents the 15th House District. To contact him, call 855-775-1515 or email him at georgetdarany@house.mi.gov. To sign up for his e-newsletter, go to his website, house.mi.gov/gdarany.)