Friday, December 21, 2018

Michigan American Legion - 2018 Lame Duck Wrap Up

The 2018 Lame-Duck Hang Over – How did the bills do?
By Mark Sutton, Legislative Director, Michigan American Legion

It is Friday December 21, 2018 and The American Legion Department of Michigan was keeping an eye on a few bills during this lame-duck session let’s see how things turned out.

Note: This is the end of the 2017-2018 legislative session any bill that was introduced and passed by both chambers by the end of last nights session, which ended at 0735 this morning is dead. However, a new legislative session begins January 1, 2019 for two years. Bills could be resurrected by a different legislator in the new session. We are forever mindful.

On to the bills:

HB 4985 and HB 4986 DEAD – These bills would eliminate the 100% disabled veteran property tax exemption and turn it into a Homestead Tax credit instead. The bills did pass through the House committee but did not receive a vote on the floor of the House. It is high likely that this issue will be resurrected in the next session.

HB 5913 –  PASSED A bill to include veterans service organizations that are 501 c 19’s to be exempt from sales tax on items they purchase for running their organizations.

SB 35 – PASSED Charitable gaming reform in favor of the non-profit organizations.

HB 4474 – PASSED – To allow national guard, active duty military, and reservists who are properly licensed to conceal carry a firearm on to state military bases. They could do this before, but it was at the discretion of the Adjutant General. Now it is law.

HB 6024 – Died This bill would have allowed veterans who qualify for the property tax exemption to submit there VA designation letter one time instead of annually. It passed the House and the Senate committee but did not receive a floor vote.

HB 4785 and HB 4786 – Died The bills would have offered pet owners to give ten dollars to a fund to support grants to veterans in need of a service dog. 

SB 1040 - PASSED expand historical vehicles to include Military vehicles.

These bills were on our watch list for lame duck.

The following bills PASSED
HB 4319, 6063, and 6403

During this legislative session the following bills became law and had the term veteran in the bill, if you would like to look up these bills or any other bills go to

HB 4168, 4628, 4701, 4918, 5536, 5995
SB 248, 434, 438

Mark Sutton
Public Relations and Legislative Director
Michigan American Legion
517-371-4720 ext. 16
AL Logo

Friday, December 14, 2018

FCC and VA to Combat Illegal Robocalls Targeting Veterans

FCC and the VA are teaming up to combat illegal robocalls targeting Veterans and their families.

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Seal of the US Department of Veterans Affairs
Dear Veterans and Stakeholders,
The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) continue to team up to combat illegal robocalls targeting Americans, including Veterans and their families.
Each year, the FCC receives more than 200,000 complaints about unwanted calls. While this may seem like a big number, it pales in comparison to the millions of robocalls being made each day. The calls interrupt dinners and family time; they flood landline and mobile phones. Scam calls frequently solicit money for fake charities, including ones claiming to support America's Veterans - some even claiming to be VA representatives.  
We know that scam activity increases during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, so the FCC and VA urge you to be vigilant. We offer the following tips to help you avoid unwanted calls and scams.
  • Don't answer calls from unknown numbers. Scammers may spoof their caller ID to display a fake number that appears to be local.  If you answer such a call, hang up immediately.
  • Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother's maiden names, or passwords in response to unexpected or suspicious calls.
  • Be sure to set a password for all voice mail accounts to avoid being hacked.
  • Register your number on the Do Not Call List to block calls from legitimate telemarketers.
  • Ask your phone company about call-blocking tools and services for your landline phone, and check for helpful apps that you can download to your mobile phone.
Please help spread the word about robocall fraud among those who may need assistance particularly those who are frequently targeted by phone scams.  
For more information, visit:
Veterans Benefits Administration

Sent to on behalf of US Department of Veterans Affairs
Veterans Benefits Administration · 810 Vermont Avenue, NW · Washington, DC 20420 · 1-800-827-1000

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

House Tax Policy

Contact your State Representative and ask the to VOTE NO on HB 4985 and HB 4986!!!!


Wednesday 1100 December 12, 2018, the House convenes at 1200 today. Call or email your representative ASAP TODAY!

I just left the House Tax Policy Committee where the committee voted HB 4985 and HB 4986 out of committee. These bills remove the local property tax exemption for 100% disabled veterans and replace it into a Homestead Property Tax credit. However, it requires the veteran to go through more steps in order for this credit to be obtained.

The American Legion can understand the concern of the local taxing units and their loss of revenue from this exemption imposed on them by the state. If the state feels these local units need reimbursement then make an appropriation to send to the local units.

We find it disheartening to watch as these same local units cry foul that 100% disabled veterans are receiving this property tax exemption when those same local units give tax exemptions to their local businesses.

We find it offensive when they also refer to our veterans as freeloaders since they feel they are not contributing to the local police and fire services. Yet somehow the businesses are not freeloaders when they are given their tax breaks? Some of these veterans took a bullet and suffer debilitating diseases due to their service to your country.

Somewhere in this mess, our values are mixed up.

The Michigan American Legion is asking you to tell your representative to vote NO on HB 4985 and HB 4986

Try to contact YOUR State Representative TODAY and ask them to vote NO on House Bill 4985 and 4986. Find your rep. here

Be polite, let them know you are a veteran and/or their constitute.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Mark Sutton
Legislative Director/Public Relations Director
Michigan American Legion 
517-371-4720 ext 16

Friday, November 30, 2018

VA takes key step to improve its website to provide Veterans an enhanced digital customer experience

VA takes key step to improve its website to provide Veterans an enhanced digital customer experience
WASHINGTON — This week the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) took a key step in its digital modernization effort by revamping its website accessed by 10 million customers per month who use VA's tools and content online.
To improve this experience VA's Veterans Experience Office and VA Digital Service  gathered feedback from more than 5,000 Veterans, service members, their families, caregivers and survivors.
Many customers said they were having a frustrating experience, encountering a complicated collection of websites, forms, logins and tools.  Through feedback, VA learned that many of them struggled to find what they needed. By listening to Veterans and working across VA organizational boundaries, the new website shifts from a "VA as an organization" to a "customer-first" platform.
"Veterans, their families, caregivers and our many customers have successful online transactions in their day-to-day lives," said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. "They should expect the same exceptional digital experience when coming to VA. Our customers will receive a more simple and intuitive experience when accessing our online front door – the new"
The new site contains homepage content that focuses on the top 20 tasks that 80 percent of VA's customer's need, the ability to login to receive a personalized experience and easy to understand plain language content. Logged in customers will find a dashboard summarizing the current status of services they receive from VA, whether those services are provided by the Veterans Health Administration – such as prescription refills or the Veterans Benefits Administration – such as claim status. Customers can also update their contact information in one location rather than visiting multiple VA websites or making multiple calls.
VA is demonstrating that it is possible for Federal agencies to give the American people the online experience they expect and deserve. VA has been identified as the "co-lead" of the White House cross-agency priority goal on improving customer service.
Here is the link:
Mark A. Meadows  (CBSP) (GCDF)
Community Employment Coordinator
John D. Dingell VA Medical Center
4646 John R. Street Detroit MI 48201
Phone: (313) 576-4950
Cell: (313) 608-7615
United States Marine Corps Veteran
VA Core Values: Integrity Commitment Advocacy Respect Excellence
VA Core Characteristics: Trustworthy | Accessible | Quality | Innovative | Agile | Integrated
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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Welcome to the Fisher House Michigan Family

Welcome to the Fisher House Michigan family!
What is a Fisher House?
A Fisher House is like a Ronald McDonald House, built near VA hospitals for the families of our military and Veterans who need inpatient medical services. A temporary home away from home, Fisher Houses keep loved ones together during medical care. 
A home away from home, Fisher Houses typically include 16 private family suites for Veterans and their families. Additionally, unlike a hotel, families share common areas, including a kitchen, laundry, and dining room which help create a support network among the families. The best news? These families will never pay a dime to stay in a Fisher House. 
Why Fisher House Michigan?
There are 650,000 Veterans living in Michigan, and there are 5 major VA Medical Centers to support them. However, while there are nearly 80 active Fisher Houses around the world, there are NONE in Michigan yet. Working in collaboration with the Fisher House Foundation and the Department of Veterans Affairs, Fisher House Michigan aims to change that. 
Fisher Houses have been approved for both the Ann Arbor and Detroit VA Hospitals, and Fisher House Michigan has set a strategic goal of raising $20,000,000. This amount will fund these first two houses, support the families during their stay in these houses, and endow a future for any other Fisher Houses in the state the VA authorizes.
These are first-class facilities, beautifully designed and well built. Our military heroes deserve nothing less. They are not financed by the VA but rather by private citizens and corporate donors, who want to give back for the safety, security, freedom and comfort our military provides.
Michigan is overdue for a Fisher House, and will get its first in Ann Arbor after groundbreaking occurs in 2019. The Fisher House at the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center will follow in time. 
Fisher House Michigan is largely a volunteer organization, with a tiny professional staff. But in just over 18 months, this passionate team has raised over $4,000,000 toward their $20M goal. What's more, the careful stewardship of each donor dollar has won FHM a Platinum Rating for transparency from Guide Star Charity Rating System.
With an annual Veterans story-telling event that draws thousands, and with special fund-raising events all year like the  Memorial Day Match and the Patriots Pledge, Fisher House Michigan recognizes the exceptional sacrifice our Active Military and Veterans have made.
How can you help?
Watch for challenge match periods when you can DOUBLE your impact.
Follow us on Social Media to stay updated with our progress, special events, and to help spread the word!

Our Contact Information
Fisher House Michigan
3250 Plymouth Road
Suite 103

Ann Arbor, MI 48105
(518) 481-0552

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Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Legion's renewed commitment to veterans, children​

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American Legion Veterans & Children Foundation launched
Funds will help needy military families and disabled veterans.
Read more
Donate here



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