Lenawee County takes pride in serving the veterans who have served our country with honor. There are over 7,100 veterans residing in Lenawee County. The Department of Veterans Affairs provides assistance to veterans of all ages in accessing the benefits they have earned as a result of their service.
Kelley Elliott is a Veterans Advocate and Veterans Service Officer at the Department of Veterans Affairs. She meets with the veterans who come in for assistance on a daily basis. “Veterans are very grateful for the services we have here in the county,” says Kelley. And all of the services are provided free of charge.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has a small and dedicated staff of three people. They strive to provide personalized service and cut through the red tape to help veterans every day. “We work here for a reason. We’re here because we want to be here to serve the veterans who served our country,” explains Kelley. “When they come in, it doesn’t matter if we do the service or not, we will make sure it gets done for them. We are their people.”
Assisting Veterans in Applying for Benefits
One of the primary functions of the Department is to assist veterans and their dependents in obtaining and maintaining various federal, state and county benefits. This includes service-related compensation, educational benefits, government life insurance, VA home loans and VA health care benefits. Veterans can bring their paperwork into the office and receive assistance in filing and tracking their claims through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
“If this office was not here, our veterans would have to travel to other agencies to obtain assistance,” explains Kelley. “And Detroit is our regional office where all of the claims are processed. So they would have to travel there.” That could mean a long commute of up to two hours one-way, depending on where they reside in the county.
Helping Veterans Access Health Care through the VA Medical Center
The Department of Veterans Affairs also helps veterans to access their health care benefits through the VA health system. There are five VA Medical Centers and 26 outpatient and community-based clinics for veterans in Michigan. The closest VA Medical Center is located in Ann Arbor. The Department of Veterans Affairs provides a free transportation service to and from the Ann Arbor VA Medical Center for appointments scheduled between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
If this service was not available, it would cause hardship for many veterans. “A lot of our veterans cannot travel on their own, whether they can’t afford it or are too disabled to travel,” explains Kelley. “So if this office wasn’t here, it would impact them immensely.”
Touching the Lives of Veterans
The services provided by the Lenawee County Department of Veterans Affairs have a profound impact on the lives of veterans in the county. Trent Woerner is 36 year-old veteran of the United States Army who currently resides in Sand Creek, Michigan. After serving in the Army from 2000 through 2004 and achieving the rank of E-4, he returned home and registered with the Lenawee County Department of Veterans Affairs.
The hands-on approach provided by the staff at the Lenawee County Department of Veterans Affairs makes all the difference. “The hardest thing for veterans is finding out what benefits are available to us,” explains Trent. “When the veterans come in here, they enroll them in the system and get them started.”
Trent receives his veteran’s benefits through the county. He has also received assistance with housing, medical services, and legal services through the Department of Veterans Affairs. “They helped me get a VA loan for our house so I didn’t need to make a down payment,” says Trent. “That allowed us to have extra money to help take care of the family a little more.”
He also worked with the Department on a work study program that allowed him to get a college degree and improve his life. “I am extremely grateful for these services,” says Trent. “Without them, I would not have the house I have or the education that I have. And my children wouldn’t have all of the benefits they have. My life would be totally different if I had not received services from the Lenawee County Department of Veterans Affairs.”
Investing in Veterans, Investing in You
The services provided by the Lenawee County Department of Veterans Affairs have helped thousands of veterans improve their quality of life. The Department works tirelessly to ensure that veterans receive the benefits to which they are entitled as a result of their military service.
“I’m just extremely thankful that they’re here and that they work so hard to provide the benefits and information I need in order to help my family and help myself,” says Trent. “I cannot say enough good stuff about them.”
To learn more about how we are investing in our veterans, please visit us online at www.lenawee.mi.us/investing
or call 888-448-1387.