Our Story

One Stop Link to Your VA Benefits

https://www.vets.gov/

Northern Michigan Veteran Resources and Support

Resources and support to northern Michigan (NM) veterans lags the region's tradition of service. Michigan ranks #11 in veteran population, while ranking #45 in Federal dollars spent per veteran. NM is a GOOD and welcoming place for veterans and families to live, work, and enjoy the region's outstanding natural beauty. There is a huge groundswell of support from the community, and veterans bring a dynamic, economic benefit to our communities. Many NM residents feel they are "living the dream" up north. Yet too many veterans, especially in our rural region, face big challenges due to complex veterans systems, benefit rules, and long distances to get key benefits — especially healthcare. Based on VA statistics, over 60% of NM veterans are not even enrolled for VA services. The brutal truth is that only a small fraction of our Veterans in rural NM are taking advantage of benefits available to them. Over 8% of the population in NM are veterans, and there is a strong tradition of service to our country, and to include a very strong tradition of service in our tribal communities. We can do better, and Veteran-led Project Cherry Tree is aiming higher for our veterans: moving from GOOD to PREMIER!

Rural Challenge

Michigan's beauty and geography creates a unique rural challenge in providing services to our veterans. There is a unique tyranny of distance that our veterans must overcome in order to get support in NM. Our Great Lakes are beautiful, but they form a barrier that create huge driving distances. There are wonderful agencies (federal, state, local) working in NM to support our veterans, but by any objective measure, it is much less than what our veterans receive in the more populated regions in southern Michigan and across the nation. There is huge support in the community for our veterans, but this local support is difficult for state and federal agencies to link with because of these rural challenges. This can be remedied by enabling 'local' approaches, by closing the gap with public-private partnerships to replicate similar networks that reside in larger population centers. This, along with improved governmental approaches for our rural veterans, can have a tremendous impact in the region.

Growing Veteran Community

A growing, contributing veteran community is an important brick in building a vibrant cultural and economic ecosystem in NM. We must step forward, just as Michigan volunteers (citizens and Native American both) did over 150 years ago to defend and fight for our Republic in the Civil War, and every conflict since. We see a growing Veteran population receiving more benfits here as a multiplier for our economy and communities - more students, more good-paying jobs/careers, more growing families, more new businesses and more sustainable growth and prosperity. Veterans of all ages bring a lot to the community, so why not become the BEST place in Michigan and rural America for Veterans transitioning to civilian life?