State money for veterans programs face more cuts

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Capital News Service
LANSING — Veterans’ service organizations face another $1 million in state budget cuts for programs that help veterans file claims for benefits and guide them through the
federal bureaucracy.
There already has been a $1 million cut, which led to layoffs at the Veterans of Foreign Wars and other service organizations, including the American Legion, Catholic War Veterans, the Purple Heart and Vietnam Veterans of America, according to VFW state Quartermaster Robert Weiss.
Lawmakers say it’s tough giving veterans less funding, but money is running low.
The Republican-controlled Senate has already voted for the cut for the fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1.
All Senate Republicans and three Democrats supported the cuts in a bill that funds both veterans and military programs. Democrats are Sens. Jim Barcia of Bay City, Deb Cherry of Burton and Michael Switalski of Roseville.
Weiss said the VFW had to “ lay people off permanently.” With less money to operate, the staff had to get smaller in places like Iron Mountain and Marquette.
The proposed budget plan would cut nearly $226,000 from the VFW budget alone, he said.
Veterans need help with housing and health problems and with wars going on now, the last thing needed is more cuts, Weiss said.
Veterans come to the VFW for help in filing claims.
“We have soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan that are coming back needing help,” said Weiss.

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