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Added benefits proposed for Michigan's veterans


LANSING, MI (WTVB) - On this Memorial Day Weekend, there’s word of more assistance and added services being proposed for veterans in Michigan. More than 25,000 currently uninsured veterans and spouses in the state could receive health coverage if Medicaid is expanded to cover those at 133 percent of the federal poverty level. The Urban Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reports there are 1.3 million uninsured veterans under age 65 and about 40 percent of those could qualify for health coverage through Medicaid expansion. The report says 44,000 Michigan veterans or 11.4% of vets in the state are uninsured. When including vets' families, the numbers go up to 73,000.

AARP Michigan State Director Jacqueline Morrison says as we honor our veterans on this Memorial Day, we can provide much-needed help to those who have served our nation by expanding affordable health care coverage. Meanwhile, Vietnam veterans could be awarded high school diplomas by local school boards under legislation introduced this week in the Michigan Senate.  Under the measure, the time of service is defined as being between Feb. 28, 1961 and May 7, 1975. Currently, Michigan allows school boards to award high school diplomas to veterans of World War II and the Korean conflict. Would be applicants include those honorably discharged during the Vietnam Era. They must have enlisted or been drafted before high school graduation and must be at least 65 years old or reached age 65 by the time of death. 

Backers of the bill say it may seem like a small thing, but to our veterans and their families it is an important acknowledgement of everything they gave up, putting the defense of our country before their own education so that we could remain free.