How veterans can take advantage of programs designed to help them

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FLINT (WJRT) - (11/10/17) - Understanding veterans benefits can be quite complex.

There are a number of different types, each with different requirements. Despite more money and services being available, veterans aren't taking advantage.

"The veterans -- we call it deny until you die so you feel like the system is denying you until you get unhealthy or until you die or are almost dead, and then here you go," George Grundy said. "A couple of crumbs and pennies in order to help you kind of phase out of here."

Grundy founded nonprofit organization Veterans of Now. The U.S. Marine Corps veteran overcame his own struggles to now help other veterans access what's available.

"We have approximately 5,000 veterans in the city of Flint and about 30,000 veterans in Genesee County itself, but we're one of the hardest hit when it comes to the disproportion of benefits received," Grundy said.

Federal data shows the value of overall benefits available to veterans increased by more than $1.5 billion from 2010 to 2016. Still in a state with more 600,000 veterans, only 18 percent are receiving some of the benefits.

The state quoted data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Geographic Distribution of Expenditures.

Richard Hurd served in the Korean War. He's now part of the honor guard at VFW Post 822. They honor about 100 fallen servicemembers at funerals each year.

Hurd doesn't receive VA benefits, but he understands the demand for them.

"The more health care costs go up, the more a veteran would look at it to get service," Hurd said.

Grundy said it's important for younger veterans to get involved. Joining a local Disabled American Veterans, American Legion or VFW post gives access to a network and resources to help consistently.

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