Veterans Affairs Agencies discuss the legacy of the MVAA in the UP

Combined county Veterans Affairs offices help provide assistance to the 25,800 plus U.P. veterans.
Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 6:08 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE COUNTY, Mich. (WLUC) - Veteran’s Affairs offices are making sure there is a network of support for those who have served.

On Monday, the Michigan Veteran’s Affairs Agency (MVAA) celebrated its 10-year anniversary. Its legacy is one that continues to affect veterans in the Upper Peninsula.

One of the 14 county offices in the U.P. helping veterans is the Marquette County Department of Veterans Affairs. Combined county Veterans Affairs offices help provide assistance to the 25,800 plus U.P. veterans.

“In the 10 years that we have had an office here in Marquette we have facilitated over 20,000 claims for benefits for veterans and their families,” MVAA Veteran Service Officer Jason Zdunek said.

Zdunek says the procedure for veterans looking to get benefits for the first time can be difficult.

“It is a very complicated process often times to approach a large bureaucracy such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, so we really work with through our office to break down that bureaucracy to make those benefits the veterans have earned available to them and their family.”

The Marquette County VA received $62,000 last year from MVAA grants. It is using that money to provide additional resources.

“This year we utilized the grant for dental care. If a veteran does not have dental care they can go to their local provider, and we will pay up to $500 for their bill,” Marquette County Department of Veterans Affairs Director Rachel Woody said. “We are installing a handicap door in our office, and we also utilize the money for our transportation office.”

Woody says the most important part of local Veterans Affairs offices is providing a more personal experience.

“There are attorneys that will help veterans, but it does cost a veteran, where we it is a one-on-one approach, and no money is involved. It is just us using our local resources,” Woody said.

To find a VA facility near you and to find what benefits you could qualify for, visit the MVAA website.