The fair will offer veterans of all ages and branches of service the opportunity to meet one-on-one with federal, state, local and college representatives and learn about the various benefits they may be eligible to receive, including education and training opportunities; free or low-cost healthcare benefits; survivor and dependent services; and home loans, legal services, and burial benefits. No appointments are necessary.
“We owe a great debt to our military veterans, but too often veterans aren’t taking advantage of the benefits they’ve earned through their service to our country,” said Retired Major General Robert W. Smith, Director of the Veterans’ Services Division, Michigan Workforce Development Agency. “This event is one way to make sure Michigan vets have access to the full range of services available to them.”
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will have representatives on hand in their Mobile Vet Center, a traveling office designed to advise veterans in their communities and help them apply on-site for various federal benefits and services available to veterans and their families.
The Mobile Vet Center is equipped with confidential counseling space as well as a satellite and onboard generator, allowing Vet Center counselors to have real-time access to a veteran’s VA records on a secure system. The Center also is equipped with a video conferencing system that allows face-to-face visits between veterans and Veterans Affairs Medical Center health providers.
Education specialists will be available to talk about various educational programs, including veteran education benefits, GI Bill, Post 9/11, Yellow Ribbon, Chapter 30, and Chapter 33.
Veteran Employment Specialists from the Veterans’ Services Division of the state’s Workforce Development Agency also will be on-site to counsel veterans on career opportunities, job search strategies, resume writing, and to provide veterans with access to statewide job listings on MiTalent.org, the state’s one-stop employment website.
“Any veterans looking to get into a new career would benefit immensely by attending this resource fair,” said GRCC Veterans Benefits Coordinator Janice Holton. “Not only will there be plenty of career resources—Veterans can also learn more about the benefits offered for going back to college.”
Representatives from the federal Veterans Health Administration will be available to help resolve concerns about any aspect of a veteran’s health care experience, particularly those concerns that cannot be resolved at the point of care. Veterans Health Administration patient advocates will listen to any questions, problems, or special needs and refer veterans to the appropriate Medical Center staff for resolution.
Veterans will also be able to ask questions about legal matters, including how to clear up outstanding warrants through participation in a Veteran Treatment Court, arrange community service in lieu of fines, or enter into debt repayment plans.
“I encourage all veterans to take advantage of this opportunity to talk to the experts and get help navigating the list of resources available to you,” said General Smith. “It is a solid first step toward building a brighter future for them and their families.”
Grand Rapids Community College, established in 1914, offers opportunities for over 30,000 students annually in degree courses, certification and training programs, workshops and personal enrichment classes. GRCC holds classes on the downtown Grand Rapids campus as well as several additional locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.