Chuck served two years in the Navy between the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Now a 76 year old retired high school history teacher Chuck lives with Eileen, his partner of 20 years, in Northwest Michigan. With a limited pension, a serious heart condition and early signs of dementia, Chuck and Eileen faced losing their lakeside cottage and moving into assisted living. Then Chuck’s daughter Carrie dialed 2-1-1.
With one phone call Carrie found information on home care options, help paying for Chuck’s 17 different prescriptions, and most importantly, after learning about services available through 2-1-1, Carrie was transferred directly to a specialist at the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA). The MVAA specialist determined that, even though Chuck never served during wartime, he qualified for a partial military pension and other VA assistance. The next day a local Veteran Service Officer visited Chuck at home, confirmed his eligibility and got him enrolled.
Now a VA home care worker visits Chuck and Eileen 12 hours a week, helping with chores and shuttling them to the grocery store and hospital visits. The extra pension money and prescription help means Chuck can afford to take the right dose of all his medicines and not fall behind on other bills. Most importantly, Chuck and Eileen continue to live independently in their own home – with a helping hand from the benefits Chuck earned during his military service.
Chuck and Eileen were among the first people to benefit from a unique partnership between Michigan 2-1-1 and the Michigan Veterans Affairs agency that began developing in the fall of 2012 when Michigan Association of United Ways and Michigan 2-1-1 received a Veterans Transit Community Living Initiative (VTCLI) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to make it easier for veterans and their families to access community services and support across the state. With this funding, Michigan 2-1-1 consolidated multiple databases of local and human services into a single statewide database with over 30,000 different program and services in communities across the state available online at www.mi211.org. The eight regional 2-1-1 providers also migrated to a new phone system that reduces costs and allows them to share calls and ensure quick and easy access to people looking for help for friends, family members or themselves.
While working on the new database and phone system, Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency approached 2-1-1 to partner and better coordinate support for veterans and their families. Now a veteran calling 2-1-1 reaches a trained professional who can assist them, then make a live transfer to an agent at the MVAA who can connect them with services specifically for veterans, including housing, employment, physical and mental health, and much, much more. It works in the other direction too if veteran calling MVAA also needs information about community services like food pantries, a ride to a medical appointment or utility assistance. 2-1-1 also takes calls for MVAA outside regular business hours to ensure 24/7/365 access for veterans.
For more information dial 2-1-1. If you are calling from outside Michigan or have trouble reaching 2-1-1, you can also call toll-free 844-875-9211. Reach the MVAA at 800-642-4838 (800-MICH-VET).
* Names have been changed to protect the family’s privacy.