Sunday, July 19, 2015

Veterans going hungry each month in michgan.

Average cost of care at MI vets home in Grand Rapids Dom unit: 2100 a month. Limited to about 50 people, but has room for over 100, with double occupancy, in what used to be 4 man rooms.
Average disability check, (va, ss, whatever) 1200 a month.
Average cost of living in Michigan - 2000 a month.

Yet despite this, many vets who leave the home end up doing better. Yet they still face other hardships. 

It has come to the attention of many disabled veterans who are on a limited budget, that there just isn't enough help of the right KIND, for veterans in Michigan.

While there is help available to some veterans who have served in declared wars or zones, such as Nam, Grenada, Desert shield and Storm, others who served in other areas prior to or after, do not get the same benefits. Many Cold war veterans for example, served under hostile fire conditions but do not get credit for doing so, as we were not in any "declared" wars at the time.

Since 1973 we have had an ALL volunteer military. Yet our vets are still treated differently depending on where they served, and whether or not that service gets special recognition.

Veterans who become disabled later in life who are not service connected, or those who are, but whose VA pensions are less than or about 1200 a month find themselves in a very precarious financial situation.

Even with Section 8 HUD housing (public housing assistance), most of these veterans struggle each month with day to day living expenses. The 1200 a month is just enough to pay the basic bills, Home, Electricity, gas, trash, Phone, and maybe car insurance and gas, and cable TV or Cable internet. Then there is the food budget, and clothing and laundry that comes out of the rest of it.

Many of these veterans are finding they can get Food Stamps, but on average only get about 15 a month. Hardly worth the effort to get it, but every bit helps.

Extra expenses, like new clothing to replace the worn out stuff, car repairs, and such all come out of the food budget which for most is 100 a week or less.  In many cases, even without these additional expenditures, the veteran has to go to the local food banks for supplementary food to get them through the month.

Now some of the veterans can go and get help from outside agencies.. but most of them require the vet to be in one of those declared war zones, and have that info on their DD214.

Many who served time in the Persian Gulf, were pre-war and don't get any credit for it. For example those who spent months in the Gulf during the Iran-Iraq war, do not get credit for being less than 5 miles from the war zone, while the military kept an eye on the 2 countries. Vets who were in the gulf when Sadam Husein of Iraq used the biological weapons on the Kurds in the north, do not get any credit for being in the region ready to fight if called to do so.

Another example is those who served picket duty off the coast of Lebanon after the Marines barracks got bombed.  No credit for that, even though some of them got shot at.

For all practical purposes, No one is here to help these veterans who need financial help to get over a financial hump, what ever it may be. Car repair, Moving expenses (down payment, truck rental to move their furniture, etc). And when help is available, its due to a program that gets funding for a specific time, then that pool of resources drys up and again, no help is available. There may be one or two civilian ran groups in the area that offer help but its usually limited in the amount they can help, which usually is not enough.

Living on 1200 a month means you SURVIVE. No extra money for anything else. Some say the phone and Cable TV/Internet are luxuries. I say the phone is a must have, and internet access is also a must have in todays world.

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