The general in charge of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs made a stop in Marquette Thursday to visit the Jacobetti Home for Veterans. Thursday's visit was the first time Major General Gregory Vadnais had visited Jacobetti since he was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder in 2011.
"If you want to see what right looks like on how veteran homes should be ran, come up to Jacobetti because they're doing it well. [They are] doing it every day, and this is tough work," said Vadnais.
The general's tour began with awarding James Feliciano for his work volunteering at the veterans home.
Along with recognition, however, came a sobering acknowledgement of the tough situation facing veterans in the Great Lakes state.
"In Michigan, we've got a problem," Vadnais said. "If you looked at the gross federal dollars available to vets, we're tracking dead last in the state of Michigan and have been for years."
Part of the problem is the complexity surrounding veterans' benefits. According to Vadnais, there are over 460 groups that provide veteran assistance in the state, which does not include the numerous other federal agencies.
"The level of complexity is great, and we're trying to figure out just quite simply how to identify certain services that a specific vet would need and get those connected," Vadnais explained.
The Board of Managers of Jacobetti and the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans are currently planning for the changing demographics in the veteran population, which will affect funding.
"When you look at the population we have in the state of Michigan, [there are] about 680,000 veterans, 200,000 in World War II or Korea, and a quarter million in Vietnam," stated Jason Allen, Senior Deputy Director for Veterans Affairs. "We have a large peace time component and then a new group coming in from Iraq and Afghanistan that's going to be smaller and have a different set of needs."
Recently the Michigan government allocated an additional $500,000 of additional state money to Veterans Affairs. The funds will be used for maintenance repairs both at Jacobetti and the veterans home down in Grand Rapids.