A bill sponsored by a Midland lawmaker aimed to connect veterans returning home with information about employment and benefits is headed to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk.
The bill from state Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, would assign Michigan’s recently-created Veterans Affairs Agency the duty of sending “welcome home” letters to U.S. military veterans returning home from tours of duty.
“Our veterans and their families make tremendous sacrifices to protect our freedoms and way of life, yet many of them face real challenges when returning home from duty,” Stamas said. “This reform is part of our ongoing effort to show our appreciation to Michigan’s 650,000 veterans by ensuring our state is doing its best to assist their transition into civilian life and new careers.”
Stamas’ legislation, Senate Bill 52, was passed by the Michigan Senate in March and by the Michigan House of Representatives on Tuesday, May 12.
It is now headed to the governor’s desk for consideration.
The bill assigns the task of sending a “welcome home” letter, including information about veterans service organizations and useful tools to help them transition to their civilian life, to the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency. The agency was created by Executive Reorganization Order 2013-2, enacted by Gov. Rick Snyder in January 2013.
The task is currently handled by the Veterans Services Division within Michigan’s Workforce Development Agency.
“We created the state’s Veterans Affairs Agency as a one-stop-shop for veterans, and it just makes sense that our outreach to veterans returning home comes from the agency dedicated to them,” Stamas said.
Among other things, the 2013 executive order states that the Veterans Affairs Agency must serve as the coordinating office for all agencies of the executive branch that are responsible for programs related to services for veterans.
“I sponsored this legislation to help better connect veterans with the benefits they earned and employment and education opportunities that can help them live the American Dream that they honorably served to protect,” Stamas said.
The bill was passed by unanimous votes in both chambers of the Michigan Legislature.
“I thank my colleagues for their support and look forward to seeing the governor stand up for our returning veterans by signing this bill,” Stamas said.
The state senator represents Michigan’s 36th District, which includes Alcona, Alpena, Arenac, Gladwin, Iosco, Midland, Montmorency, Oscoda, Otsego and Presque Isle counties.
After three terms representing the 98th District in the Michigan House of Representatives, Stamas was elected to his first term in the Michigan Senate in November 2014, taking the seat formerly held by U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar, R-Midland.
Veterans with questions or those seeking more information about the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency may visit the agency’s website at www.michiganveterans.com or call them at 1-800-MICH-VET.