Oakland, Macomb counties among top recipients from Michigan Veterans Trust Fund

By: Zachary Manning | C&G Newspapers | Published March 8, 2021

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OAKLAND/MACOMB COUNTIES — Zaneta Adams’ experience with the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund extends back to her time in law school, when her car broke down and she was in need of support.

She didn’t have the funds for the repair, but she knew she couldn’t miss classes or other appointments. If she did, her spot in school could be taken and her future would be jeopardized.

She wasn’t aware of the trust fund, but another veteran informed her about the resource. The MVTF was able to get those funds to Adams, who is now the director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency.

“I can speak as an individual who was a recipient at one time that the trust fund truly, truly, truly does help you in a time of need and puts your mind at rest when you can get that assistance,” Adams said.

The MVTF is now 75 years old and has helped thousands of veterans in Oakland and Macomb counties with just under $20 million.

Over the 75-year period, Oakland and Macomb counties rank near the top in grants received and the amount of assistance. Grants have helped 32,508 veterans in Oakland County, and the MVTF has given $10.3 million.

Macomb County has seen 31,546 grants and $8.8 million in aid. However, the county was the state leader in assistance in both 2019 and 2020, with $118,465 and $101,012, respectively.

Since its inception in 1946, the trust fund has assisted some 634,000 eligible veterans and dependents with a total of $125 million in aid. The MVTF can help in a variety of emergency situations, including home repairs and car maintenance.

However, the MVTF has since expanded into other areas to help veterans:

• Offering veterans and their families access to free financial counseling through GreenPath Financial Wellness.

• Partnering with Habitat for Humanity of Michigan with a goal of getting more house repairs for eligible veterans.

• Donating $300,000 to help create Food4Vets, which provides food assistance to eligible veterans and their families.

• Donating $52,000 to Gleaners Community Food Bank in southeastern Michigan to support food insecurity programs for veterans.

• Providing a grant to Heroes Haven to support the Michigan organization’s programs for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and to expand programs to include women veterans.

“The Veterans Trust Fund has been a vital resource for generations of Michigan veterans and their families to make it through challenging financial times,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a press release. “Our service members put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms, and we are dedicated to ensuring they have the support they need when they come home.”

Lindell Holm has been the director of the MVTF since 2014 and has seen firsthand how much help has been provided to veterans in need.

Over the years, the MVTF has expanded to include every wartime-era veteran. As long as a veteran served 180 days on active duty during a time of war and was discharged with an honorable discharge or general discharge under honorable conditions, they and their dependents would be eligible.

As the director of the MVTF, Holm is hoping more veterans in need use the resources that are provided. Some may not know about the trust fund or don’t want handouts, but the MVTF encourages any veteran in need to reach out and at least have the conversation of what can be done.

“To have this available, it’s something that we just want to be used,” Holm said. “We want to be there to provide the funding to help them get back on their feet so they can just continue to be able to maintain their lives.”

Applications for MVTF assistance are taken through the local county Veterans Affairs office or by calling the MVAA’s 24/7 hotline at 1-800-MICH-VET.

Locally approved grants of up to $3,500 are available to wartime-era veterans and spouses, unremarried widow(er)s and minor children of eligible veterans who are experiencing an unforeseen, temporary financial emergency or hardship.