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Judge James Redford, left, and Lt. Col. Lindell Holm, speak to local military veterans.

VETS ASSURED: Bay County to Replace Job Eliminated by State

MVAA, Trust Fund Top Officials, Sen. Green, Meet Local Vets

July 20, 2016       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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Problem solved!

A dozen military veterans concerned about the loss of a state-paid liaison person in the Bay County Building had their fears of communication failure allayed Monday.

Bay County Executive Thomas L. Hickner's administrative assistant, Debbie Russell, assured the veterans that the county will hire a part-time employee to staff the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund office on the second floor of the county building.

The new county hire will replace a part-time state worker whose position has been terminated.

Local veterans were concerned because, instead of a part-time worker, the state had posted its phone number on the door in the county building.

Local veteran Bruce Douglas pointed to the high suicide rate among veterans, asking "Is part of the problem that they can't get information? They just put you on hold," he complained, stating that veterans needing mental health counseling often are not seen by the VA until they have made five visits to the hospital.

Director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA), former Kent County Circuit Judge James Redford, and Lt. Col. Lindell Holm, director of the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund (MVTF), met with the local veterans and county officials.

State Sen. Mike Green, R-Mayville, who made arrangements for the visit by the state officials, was on hand to introduce them and added his support for veterans' services.

The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) mission is to serve as the central coordinating point, connecting those who have served in the United States Armed Services and their families, to services and benefits throughout the state of Michigan.

Redford explained that there was a "disconnect" between the MVAA and Bay County after the longtime staff member stepped down and local vets were not given notice.

Bay was one of the last counties to have a Trust Fund staff member, he said, noting that only two counties remain that have such staffing.

The Trust Fund awards emergency grants to combat-era veterans when an unforeseen situation creates a temporary financial hardship that a grant if approved, would resolve. Applicants must be able to show they will be able to meet future expenses after the grant.

Redford and Holm stressed that the state can't afford to pay $10,000 per year to staff an office in 83 counties since that would total $830,000. "Trust Fund expenditures are already too high," Redford said, adding that the Trust Fund is intended to be "the resource of last resort.".

The Michigan Veterans Trust Fund office is available to veterans and their dependents 24/7/365 through its toll-free hotline, 800-MICH-VET (800-642-4838), said Redford.

Redford served 28 years in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a captain in 2012. He received the Legion of Merit, six Navy and Marine Corps commendation medals and two Navy Achievement medals.

Redford was elected as a Kent County Circuit Court judge in 2002 and joined the Snyder administration in 2014 as chief legal counsel. He is a member of the Walter Durkee American Legion Post 311 in Grand Rapids.

Holm served 25 years in the United States Marine Corps, where he earned the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal (twice), Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medal (four times), Armed Forces Expeditionary Service Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terror Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal (twice) and the Sikorsky Lifesaving Award (twice). He has a B.A. from the University of Minnesota and an M.A. from Biola University. ###

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Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at carraroe@aol.com)

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