Macomb Co. Tax provides veterans with faster help

Macomb Co. Tax provides veterans with faster help

Macomb Co. tax provides veterans with faster help From The Detroit News: >

Clinton Township Walter Chojnacki has no time to waste.

“I’m 81,” he said. “If I have to wait six months to get help, I’d have a real problem.”

Just two years ago, veterans like Chojnacki typically had to wait that long to see a counselor in Macomb County’s Veterans Services Department to get financial aid and help with federal health care benefits.

But that lag has been cut down to a couple of weeks, thanks to a millage voters approved in November 2008 to support the department’s operations. The five-year, 0.04-mill tax increase generates about $1 million annually to support the department.

Chojnacki, a Navy veteran from Bruce Township who served in the Korean War, said he waited less than a week to get help with health care benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“I can’t believe the service that I got,” Chojnacki said. “I’m all done now, and my problem is all taken care of.”

The agency helps the county’s military veterans get benefits such as a burial allowance, grave markers and financial assistance for the education of spouses and children. This year, the department has helped more than 5,500 veterans, said its director, Kermit Harris.

The millage passed two years ago costs the owner of a $100,000 home about $2 a year.

“It’s a small price to pay for our freedom and for what (veterans) have done for our country,” said Macomb County Commissioner Carey Torrice, D-Clinton Township. “You barely notice it on your taxes and it has allowed the department to do so much. It’s just opened the doors.”

The millage has enabled the county’s Veterans Services Department to hire staff, expand its offices and add programs such as food assistance and outreach, in which service officers visit senior centers and veterans groups across the county, Harris said.

“The millage has been a godsend,” he said. “It really has.”

Veterans’ advocates also praise the millage and hope voters will renew it in 2013.

“We’re certainly grateful to the citizens of Macomb County for passing the millage,” said Pat Daniels, a member of the county’s Veterans Affairs Commission and president of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 154, in Roseville. “We want them to know what’s being done with their money, so they’ll renew it ¦ because we’re going to have a whole new group of veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan who will need help.”

From The Detroit News:

Share this post