Key Takeaways:

  • Collaboration between GetSetUp, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency to provide custom classes for veterans helps create awareness of resources.
  • Targeted educational sessions can dramatically improve veterans' access to crucial services and benefits.
  • Community and technology can help bridge the gap between veterans and their rightful resources.

When Ina was discharged from service in 1975, the wounds of Vietnam were still fresh, and while she was aware of the GI Bill, she found herself uninformed about other veteran benefits. She used the GI Bill to go to nursing school, but it wasn’t until years later, with her children grown, that Ina fully embraced her status as a veteran and sought to discover the full spectrum of resources available to her. 

Living in the lower peninsula of northern Michigan means that resources are limited. Many people in her area still don’t have internet access. Her most recent search for knowledge led her to GetSetUp’s custom class offerings, specifically funded by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency and designed in partnership with Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services, to address and share resources that address the unique needs of veterans like her.

Ina’s initial curiosity was piqued by one of her favorite guides, Wade, who led the Michigan Military Support Network: Organizations Serving Veterans class. She wanted to see if there were benefits she didn’t know she could take advantage of.

"I live in a rural area, and information about events for veterans isn't easy to come by. The class seemed like a beacon for someone like me, eager to connect with the long overdue resources," Ina shared. 

The class covered veteran organizations, such as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Vietnam Vets of America, and others, their work, and how people can access these services. 

GetSetUp Guide Wade hosted Captain Brandy Walkington, who shared a wealth of information on organizations and benefits tailored to Michigan veterans. Ina was particularly impressed by Captain Walkington’s delivery: 

‍"She was so knowledgeable, did an excellent job, and was easy to understand, which made a huge difference."

The Impact of GetSetUp’s Custom Veterans Classes

The partnership between GetSetUp and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has been instrumental in designing classes that not only inform but also engage and empower veterans. 

"These classes help us find what's available out there. It's not just about learning; it’s about applying what we learn to better our lives," Ina explains. 

Through these sessions, Ina and many others have navigated the complexities of veterans' benefits with greater ease and effectiveness. Ina felt Brady’s information was well informed and even though she has been an American Legion member already, she felt camaraderie and alignment on how Brady shared information about this veterans organization. 

One of the most significant revelations for Ina was the sense of community and support fostered through these classes. 

"I used to think I had to navigate all this alone, but the class showed me there's a network ready to help," she says. 

Ina believes in the future of these custom classes and suggests further topics and outreach methods, including more classes on veteran-specific events that she can attend, ways to use veterans discounts, coupons, and savings, and practical advice on utilizing benefits. Lots of places have veterans discounts like Lowe’s, but veterans have to know how to look for these discounts and how to submit the documentation for requests. Knowing these places that offer discounts, how to apply, and veteran-friendly businesses are great ideas for future classes. She’s also interested in learning about special discounts and offerings for veterans prior to Veterans Day or other specific times of the year. Special discounts at Applebees and other places are things veterans can plan for and would be helpful. 

Plus she also knows that lots of non-profits work with veterans, and a class to learn more about those and what they do would be very helpful. Some of them offer fishing and hunting trips and other opportunities for free for veterans or at a reduced rate. She also thinks many veterans would benefit from knowing about schools with discounts or trade training. Many veterans are also looking for jobs that are veteran-friendly and looking to hire veterans. 

"Maybe short infomercials on GetSetUp about what’s happening. I'd like to see infomercials on Veteran events for the entire state. Some veterans might go on a "road trip" to join like-minded people in another part of the state," she proposes. 

Ina’s feedback points towards an ongoing need for tailored information that addresses both immediate benefits and long-term support through education and community engagement.

Through her GetSetUp experience, Ina has found resources and discovered a community of support and shared knowledge. Her story is a powerful testament to the positive impact of GetSetUp's partnership with Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services, promising a brighter, more informed future for veterans across Michigan.

Explore Michigan Veteran classes: 

  1. Michigan Veterans' Roadmap: Your Guide to Veteran Benefits & Resources
  2. Empowering Military Families: Resources and Support for Aging Service Members
  3. Michigan’s Military Support Network: Organizations Serving Veterans
  4. Michigan Veterans: Understanding VA Benefits and VSO Visits
May 10, 2024
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