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      New state program aims to help student veterans

      A new statewide program is aiming to connect student veterans to state and federal benefits. The first details of the service, called MI-VetSuccess, were unveiled Monday morning in a press conference at Northern Michigan University.

      On Monday, the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs signed a memorandum of understanding with NMU President David Haynes. It established NMU as one of six universities across the state that will serve as a hub for a campus counselor. Their job will be to student veterans learn about and customize their state and federal benefits, said Jason Allen, Senior Deputy Director, Michigan Department of Military and Veteran Affairs.

      "That includes their disability ratings, their healthcare, and the tax credits for their employment," Allen added.

      Daniel Braund, an NMU senior studying criminal justice and a staff sergeant in the Michigan National Guard 107th Engineering Battalion said the campus counselor.

      "Having somebody right here will be a huge help in probably just the amount of time it takes for us hopefully to get answers to questions," said Braund, a Marquette resident. He has served nine years of active duty with the 101st in Ft. Campbell and did three tours in Iraq and one to Afghanistan with the 1430th Engineering Company of Marquette.

      Allen noted that out of all 50 states, Michigan currently has the lowest utilization rate of the current services available for student veterans through the G.I. Bill, formally known as the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944.

      NMU currently has 350 student veterans. The school will also support outreach services to veterans at other college campuses across the Upper Peninsula. There are almost 800 students who have recently served in the military and are now enrolled at higher educational institutions in the U.P.

      Funding for the $435,000 program is coming from the state's fiscal budget that went into effect in October. The full program is expected to be in place statewide by January.