A Community-Based Effort to Help Veterans in Northern Michigan
Many worthwhile public and private service programs are available for a significant number of eligible veterans with service-connected disabilities. The same applies to those veterans who are not rated with a service-connected disability, but who face other challenges to living independently and productively.
In 2017, a group of Northern Michigan retired and still-active business executives, lawyers, and advocates of veteran’s needs organized and formed our 501c-3 non-profit organization in Traverse City, Michigan.
Today we serve roughly 21 counties in Northern Michigan and the eastern Upper Peninsula. The organization is under the direction of David Mikowski. David is a former Combat Marine that served in Vietnam for thirteen months in 1967-68. He saw the need to pay it forward by organizing an amalgam of Northern Michigan talent, that can help veterans with some of the “unforeseen needs”; whether it’s a wheelchair ramp that needs to be constructed or helping a veteran with something as simple as a gas card, which would allow the veteran to get to class or a medical appointment.
When wartime heroes return home, often times the transition back to civilian life can be emotional and financially burdensome. Veteran’s In Crisis, Inc. (heretofore identified as VIC) developed a golf tournament to raise money annually for these veterans who are struggling financially.
The tournament which started with zero funding has raised thousands of dollars. All of the proceeds from the annual golf tournament, held on Flag Day go directly to local veteran-related programs in Northern Michigan.
Historically, the family members of these men and women, and their family constellations and dynamics, have been infrequently addressed when policies and programs have been developed and implemented.
Returning service members from the ongoing Middle East conflicts, and those from earlier eras such as Vietnam, have resources available to assist them with re-entry or adaptation to civilian life. Veteran service organizations (VSO’s) do a tremendous job helping veterans, including eligibility determination for U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) benefits and providing local support such as social and recreational activities. Yet thousands of veterans, their families and their advocates continue to report great difficulty figuring out how to take advantage of the plethora of programs, and then to ultimately access the care and support they need.
Government programs and information systems especially are often characterized in media and sourced reports as fragmented, disjointed, internally confusing, and cumbersome to navigate. Communication and coordination among them is frequently viewed as erratic or even nonexistent.
- In the innate dignity and value that each individual possesses in equality and equity;
- That people are interdependent within their communities and social structure;
- That charity, giving to others, is the highest order of human pursuit;
- In personal responsibility and self reliance;
- In the individual’s and public’s duty to care for others who through no fault of their own need assistance to live quality lives;
- That the use of others’ money should be managed with transparency and accountability;
- That education and work is a source of self-respect and independence;
- That private sector solutions, business enterprise, and entrepreneurship are the engines that drive long-term viability and sustainability.
- Enabling veterans to reintegrate into their communities and live quality lives.
- Serving the public good is accomplished within the legal framework of a free society.