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Southfield veteran shares job success story, encourages others to reach out

By: Zachary Manning | Southfield Sun | Published October 6, 2020

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SOUTHFIELD — Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many people lost their jobs or have been furloughed, and Michael Kuta is no exception.

The 51-year-old Southfield resident and Gulf War veteran was working security at music festivals and sporting events across the country when the pandemic hit. He worked at Little Caesars Arena March 10 for the Detroit Red Wings’ game against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Not yet knowing the severity of the pandemic, he was excited for the events he had lined up in the coming weeks and over the summer, including a Zac Brown Band concert the following weekend.

When he got home after the hockey game, he got word that the Zac Brown Band concert was cancelled. From there, the bad news continued to roll in as sporting events and music festivals all over the country were canceled or postponed.

Kuta went from having a loaded summer of events to not having a job and wondering what had just happened.

“I was really looking forward to another fun summer ... loading my truck up and just going on the road for a month or so at a time,” Kuta said. “It was just, ‘What the hell am I going to do now?’ It’s kind of an empty feeling.”

Like so many others, Kuta began getting unemployment to help ease the financial burden of losing his job. He searched around for jobs over the next few months, but to no avail.

As the months continued, his unemployment benefits were getting ready to run out, and he knew he needed to find something.

As a veteran, he had tried to work with Veterans Affairs in the past to get health care and things of that nature, but he kept having bad experiences.

But people encouraged him to give the VA another shot, so Kuta finally gave in and reached out. This time, he had a better experience and got approved for health care benefits.

With a new outlook on the VA, he began researching the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency and decided to reach out in hopes of finding help with employment.

He was able to talk with Michigan Veteran Resource Service Center technician Rebecca Allen and MVAA strategist Dave Dunckel July 27. They took his information and told him they’d shop it around to see if they could find any potential matches.

Not knowing what to expect, Kuta waited to hear back. When he woke up on July 29, he had two voicemails from Detroit-based City Shield Security Services.

Later that day he headed in for an interview and felt good walking out. That night, he received a call letting him know that he was hired and would be starting July 31.

“Great experience with them. I will sing their praises,” Kuta said of the MVAA. “I’m proof that it works. Give these people a call and see what they can do. At least just have a conversation.”

Kuta’s experience is what the MVAA strives to be about, officials said. The Michigan Veteran Resource Service Center is where it all starts, as the staff takes calls and assists veterans in finding help with anything from securing their discharge papers to filing for VA disability benefits to acquiring emergency assistance.

The Resource Service Center has seen an increase in caseloads during the pandemic. Veterans can reach the Resource Service Center at 1-800-MICH-VET or visit www.michiganveterans.com to learn more about what the agency has to offer.

“Our overall goal is to just make sure that veterans and their family members are receiving the necessary resources to maintain a good quality of life,” Allen said.

After having some poor experiences in the past, Kuta is now a big proponent of what the VA, specifically what the MVAA, can do to help veterans who are in need.

Dunckel, a veteran himself, advises any veteran in need of assistance to contact the MVAA for any type of services they may need.

“It doesn’t matter what they’re looking for. We are a one stop-shop at the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency,” Dunckel said. “If a veteran reaches out to us at our 1-800-MICH-VET number, then we will connect them to the benefits and services that they’ve earned through their service.”

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