G1NBC News Desk -- Michigan Veteran non-profit VETLIFE is dedicated to thoroughly educating Veterans about their benefits and ensuring they have specific guidance on how and where to access them.
“Roughly 82% of Michigan Veterans have not used the federal benefits to which they’re entitled, primarily due to not having adequate information regarding what’s available or where to find them,” said VETLIFE co-founder Joshua Parish.
“VETLIFE is determined to correct this tragic situation, so that guaranteed resources such as Educational benefits, VA Home Loans, Healthcare, and Disability compensation can be fully utilized.”
In March of 2020 VETLIFE kicked off their Veteran Benefit Awareness Campaign, consisting of 60 second educational videos that help Veterans understand the benefits they may be missing, and how to connect with providers in their local county offices. Parish reports an immediate impact, “We’re seeing increased Veteran engagement throughout Michigan, and have received great feedback regarding the simple, straightforward way we’re presenting the information.”
One of the most underutilized Veteran benefits is the VA Home Loan. “Michigan is home to over 600,000 veterans, yet fewer than 12,000 Veterans used their VA Home Loan benefit in 2019,” said Joshua’s spouse and VETLIFE’s President, Cortnie Parish. “We need to do a better job of helping veterans more easily take advantage of what they’ve earned, and our videos are the best first step in helping our nation’s heroes do just that.”
Most Veterans struggle after service. They often report being confused as to where to turn for assistance of any kind, including access to benefits. Many simply give up and the consequences can be dire. Vice-President of VETLIFE, Joe Riker, has firsthand understanding of what can occur without proper and timely assistance. “After serving 9 years in the Army and Navy, I struggled to find help when I needed it most, almost becoming homeless when I returned to Michigan in 2013,” said Riker. “I wish VETLIFE had existed back then because it would have made the transition back to civilian life easier for myself and my family. Knowledge is power. If we arm our veterans with this critical benefits information, we will dramatically improve and save lives. Our veterans deserve nothing less.”