Under the direction of the Gratiot County Veterans Affairs Committee and the County Administrator, the Director of the Gratiot County Department of Veterans Affairs provides assistance to veterans, their survivors, and dependents in identifying and applying for benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. The GCDVA Director also assists with applications for State and County benefits.
The Director and a part-time Administrative Assistant are presently the only employees of the Gratiot County Department of Veterans Affairs. The Director’s position is also part-time.
All veterans should maintain the original, or a certified copy of their Discharge (DD214) from military service. This document is the passport to all veterans’ benefits. If the veteran, or surviving spouse, does not have the discharge (DD214), a new certified copy can be ordered through the GCDVA.
The County Clerk maintains a file of all registered discharges free of charge. Veterans or surviving spouses are encouraged to register a copy of the discharge, in case the original is lost. Additional copies are provided by the County Clerk free of charge.
Although veterans and their family members may correspond directly with the VA, the Gratiot County DVA provides free professional assistance in preparing correspondence to the VA and other governmental agencies. In addition to local services, the GCDVA also works closely with the Service Officers of the American Legion, VFW, and other service organizations to assist the veteran in presenting his or her claim to the VA.
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs and the State of Michigan provide a wide variety of benefits to veterans. These include such benefits as: Service-Connected Disability Compensation; Non-Service Connected Disability Pension; VA Home Mortgage Loan; Life Insurance; and Education programs. VA Healthcare benefits are available based on a Priority Group system. Government headstones or markers are provided for any deceased veteran discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.
The VA, the State of Michigan, and Gratiot County also provide a variety of benefits to surviving spouses and eligible dependent children of deceased veterans. These include such benefits as: Death Pensions to Surviving Spouses and Children; Dependency and Indemnity Compensation for Service-Connected Deaths; and other miscellaneous benefits to Surviving Spouses and Children.
Veterans Relief Fund
The Veterans Relief Fund (also known as the Soldiers Relief Fund) was created by the Michigan Legislature for the purpose of providing relief to honorably discharged, indigent wartime veterans and the spouses, widows, and minor children of such indigent or deceased veterans. This benefit normally translates into a purchase order for food and other short-term needs. The fund is not designed to address long-term problems.
Michigan Veterans Trust Fund (1-517-373-3130)
The MVTF provides assistance for “emergent” and “temporary” needs of eligible veterans. While the Veterans Relief Fund normally limits assistance to Food Vouchers, the MVTF may assist with housing, utilities, medical, and other issues. Contact the MVTF office in Lansing to schedule an appointment to meet with you at the Gratiot County Veterans Office.
County Burial Benefits
Under Michigan law, Gratiot County provides a $300 Burial Benefit to eligible surviving spouses/family members to assist in the burial costs of eligible veterans from wartime service. Gratiot County also pays for the foundation for a government headstones or markers (for eligible veterans).
Another benefit available to many veterans and eligible family members is burial at the Fort Custer National Cemetery, located near Battle Creek, Michigan, or the Great Lakes National Cemetery located in Holly, Michigan. A National Cemetery provides the following free to the veteran and/or family: gravesite (veteran and spouse/dependents in the same gravesite); granite grave marker; opening and closing for each burial in the gravesite; a concrete grave-liner when the family does not purchase a vault from the funeral home; perpetual care; in-ground inurnment in section designated for cremated remains; and military honors for burial of all veterans upon family request.