by Julie Randolph, Information & Access and Care Coordination Manager
Who of us has not developed negative emotional responses, like confusion, frustration, and anger, when faced with bureaucratic “red tape”? A delay in response or decline of request cause many of us to stop trying, and continue with the burden of unmet needs and the travesty of not receiving earned benefits. Those grieving the loss of a loved one, experiencing caregiver stress, or living with hearing or vision impairment often need additional support to navigate a complex system.
Midland County is fortunate to have the Office of Veterans Services to assist our 5600+ military veterans, as well as spouses and surviving dependents. The office does not adjudicate or act as an intermediary between the veteran and the VA, but instead provides advocacy services. Director Rory Pettipas and Service Officer Bruce Lee Hernandez are employed by the County of Midland and serve an average of 10 veterans per day. “Pulling assets together for our veterans” and “keeping it local” are two important concepts to Director Pettipas. Establishing service connection, connecting transportation resources to out of county appointments, accessing letters of existing benefits, and assisting with applications for additional benefits during the transition to a care facility or Aid and Attendance, are all common types of assistance provided.
Director Pettipas emphasizes the need for mental health advocacy. Transitions and re-socialization are challenging after extended immersion in the military culture, combat trauma, and hazing. Midland County has no military presence or active posts to maintain that sense of connection. Organizations such as the VFW and Forgotten Eagles are excellent community resources. The office also partners with Matthew Clark, Veteran and Military Family Navigator, to provide problem solving and support for many families.
You can access these services by calling the Office of Veterans Services at 989-832-6843 or 989-832-6642. Senior Services considers it a privilege to work toward enhancing lives of veterans and their families through collaboration with local resources.