Michigan cuts veteran resource program, jobs due to COVID-19

Posted at 12:37 PM, Apr 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-28 19:19:31-04

(WXYZ) — Budget cuts at the state level couldn't come at a worse time for a group of employees who say they're losing their jobs. However, it's the people the workers help who they're most concerned about.

Ten workers, who are regional coordinators for the Military Veterans Affairs Agency, say they won't have a job, come May 15.

Josh Parish is among the regional coordinators who are contracted through Allied Technical Services.

"It's a hard pill to swallow that you've sacrificed... I've been working in this position for four years, and I've done some really great things. And then to just like throw us outside like we're trash," he said.

"Last Thursday night, we received an email that the program was cut," he recalled.

Parish said he connects veterans throughout the state with resources. As an Iraq War veteran himself, he says he was lost when it came to knowing what benefits he qualified for when returning home.

"I stumbled along for four years before I realized I would even be eligible for education, healthcare, VA home loan, disability benefits," Parish explained.

However, he says the program's usefulness goes beyond that. Parish gave an example of a veteran who recently reached out to him just to talk.

"We went to a park, and we just walked around the park for a little bit," he recalled.

"Afterwards, he said, 'You really restored my faith. I didn't think that anybody cared about me, and I was actually going to commit suicide,'" Parish said.

He says he's received no clear answer about being let go, other than being told it's because of state budget cuts. Parish said his message to the governor and head of the veteran affairs would be a request to "reinstate the program."

"Let us show you the metrics," he said.

7 Action News reached out but has not heard back from the governor's office.

The Military Veterans Affairs Agency released the following statement:

"The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency has made the difficult decision to end our grant agreement with Allied Technical Services, and thus MVAA’s Regional Coordinator Program. Like all areas of government, business and the nonprofit sector, the financial impact and toll of COVID-19 is great, and we must make difficult but fiscally responsible decisions as we continue our services to Michigan veterans and our stewardship of state tax dollars. The grant originally scheduled to end in September 2020 will instead be terminated on May 15, 2020. The main role of our Regional Coordinators was veteran outreach which was severely impacted due to COVID-19. The MVAA has programs in place to fill any gaps, ensuring that veterans are connected to their benefits.

While the Regional Coordinator Program is ending, MVAA continues to examine and build ways that it can provide support, advocacy and connectivity at the local and regional levels, in order to ensure veterans and their families have the resources and support they need to thrive during – and after – this challenging time. We will continue to work with VCATs, MDHHS Veteran Navigators for mental health outreach, veteran service organizations and advocacy groups to ensure Michigan’s veterans are connected to the benefits they earned for their service.

If you are seeking resources for yourself or another veteran, please complete the Check on MIVET form by visiting or call 1-800-MICH-VET. As Michigan’s central coordinating agency for Michigan’s approximately 600,000 veterans and their families, MVAA is available 24/7 to answer veterans’ questions and connect them to benefits and services."