The Michigan Veteran Facility Authority Takes Shape

By Mark Sutton, Public Relations/Legislative Director

LANSING (JAN 15)- The Michigan Veterans Facility Authority had their first meeting for 2019 today, under the new legislative authority given from Senate Bill 1080 during lame duck.  The legislation changed the role of The Adjutant General (TAG) designee on the board.  The TAG’s designee is no longer the chairperson, but still a voting member of the board, until one year after the second home is built.  At that point the TAG becomes a member with voice, but no vote.

The legislation also allowed for the creation of a 501 (c) 3 to raise private funds to help improve the homes.

Vice-chair Mary Nader presided over the meeting today, which was attended by all of but one board member, who was present via phone.  Note when on the phone that member does not have vote, only voice.  A quorum was present.

Meeting highlights:

The Michigan Veterans Facility Authority (MVFA) now has three employees.  Ann Zerbe, who is running the day to day operations, Mike Hassan, the MVFA building construction specialist, he is in charge of all things construction and engineering, and Joe Bolanowski, financial analyst.  Fred Schaible, is the new Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency Legislative Liaison, who will split duties between the MVAA and the MVFA. Fred worked in Senator Hildabrand last legislative session.

The board approved up to $50,000 to be spent on creating a brand image, so material and digital media assets can be created so they may communicate to the general public and to possible donors their mission and purpose.  This begins the process.

Construction updates:

Asbestos abatement will begin in Grand Rapids in the next couple of weeks in the building being torn down.  Note if you are a volunteer, please be patient while construction begins.   Some tree removal will also be taking place this winter at the GRVH and at the Sebille Manor location.

Requests for bids for building contracts were sent yesterday.  The goal is to put shovels in the ground this spring in both locations, completion for March 2021.

Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS):

The Jacobetti Veterans Home in Marquette became CMS qualified on October 1, 2018 for 26 beds.  Steve Rolston, Chief Operating Officer, for the Michigan Veteran Health System stated they are seeking to qualify 55 more beds soon.   What CMS does for the homes is allows them to be reimbursed from the Medicare and Medicaid systems for certain veteran patients who qualify.  An additional revenue stream.

Grand Rapids Veteran Home is not CMS qualified and will not be in its current facilities; the physical structure does not qualify for certification.  Once the new homes is built then CMS will be available.

New Chairman:

David Henry was nominated and unanimously voted to be the new board chairman.  He assumed the position at the close of this meeting.

Director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency has not been hired as of today.  It is our understanding that the new the TAG, General Rogers is evaluating the whole department of military and veterans affairs before making a decision on a new director.

Great conversation was had on the how to handle the upcoming transition, the foundation, and a CEO for the authority.

Note, the issue of smoking was brought up again.  Steve Rolston is collecting data that the board requested and will present his findings at the February meeting so the board can hear several sides of the issue and the implications of such a policy for the future.

Great things are happening and it is exciting times for the veterans in Michigan.

If you have any questions feel free to contact me via email at mark@michiganlegion.org.


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