County to support health care project for veterans

Aug 17, 2016

Many northern Michigan veterans have to travel to the Aleda E. Lutz VA Medical Center in Saginaw to get their medical care.
Credit Veterans Administration

A new project aimed at improving veterans’ health care has the support of Grand Traverse County. County commissioners passed a resolution tonight supporting Project Cherry Tree, a group that wants to connect local veterans with local health care services.

Right now, many veterans have to drive to Saginaw or Ann Arbor for medical care.

Leaders of the new project want to connect veterans with health care services closer to home. The group also wants to provide educational and job opportunities.

Commission Chair Christine Maxbauer called Project Cherry Tree a chance for the county to be part of a national shift in veterans’ health care.

“Grand Traverse County has an opportunity to literally change the way the United States of America treats our veterans," said Maxbauer. "It’s a win-win for the veterans. It’s a win-win for the private hospitals. This is just a phenomenal opportunity.”

County Administrator Tom Menzel said the project is well-timed.

“The Veterans Department is looking at changing a 75-year model, and this model is exactly what we’re trying to do,” he said.

Menzel is a member of Project Cherry Tree’s working committee. He said he’d like the group to present a plan to leaders in Washington by September.