(12/07/12) - In November, Genesee County voters approved a millage that will raise more than $800,000 for veterans services.
But how will the money be spent?
Tucked away on the second floor of the Genesee County Administration Building is the small office of Veterans Services.
Here, three part time workers and a full time secretary have been handling about 6,000 cases for veterans. Starting Jan. 1, the department will have more than twice as much money.
"We will have a budget of about $815,000 now from the millage," said Jeanne Thick, director of Genesee County Veterans Services.
With the money, Thick hopes to hire a full time deputy director. She's also looking for a full time outreach administrator.
"He or she will be going into the homes of the homebound veterans who need to file a claim," Thick said.
There are about 30,000 veterans in Genesee County. Filing a claim with the federal government can be frustrating, so an increased staff in the office could help.
"The millage was a very welcome surprise. I'm absolutely elated that the department of veterans services can now be a one-stop shop for the veterans of Genesee County," Thick said.
Veterans Services is considering a program with the Genesee County court system for vets who are in legal trouble because of substance abuse issues or emotional problems.
"When they plead guilty, they generally will put them into counseling," Thick said.
"The establishment of a veterans court significantly decreases the veterans population within the penal system," said Jeremy Glasstetter, Military and Veterans program adviser for Baker College of Flint.
Glasstetter hopes more of the expanded budget will be used to educate and employ vets and provide them with better health care.
"We need to find a way to re-integrate veterans after their military service back into society," he said.
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