Michigan veterans battle for benefits

U.S. Veterans Administration data ranks Michigan last in federal money spent per veteran in 2013. For the past year a state agency is picking up the slack with the lack of federal dollars.

Veteran benefits include healthcare, education and pension funding. The lack of federal funding is creating a lack of resources forcing many veterans to wait, while the state tries to catch up.

Since completing a tour of duty in Ramadi, Iraq U.S. Army veteran Kyle Cawood has been fighting a different battle.

"I didn't really think about PTSD or how it affected me," said Cawood.

Cawood is one of Michiganâ??s 680,000 veterans.

He's fighting for benefits in a state ranked last in federal money spent per person.

"I think that's definitely an indicator of how our state is handling veteran affairs and they are obviously at the bottom the list things need to be changed," said Cawood.

Michigan Veteran Affairs Agency is working to help troops like Cawood with state money.

Since opening a year ago, veterans claims are being filed fast, but lack of federal funding could be slowing the process.

"I feel itâ??s out there. I feel like we can still do a better job of reaching them. We have had very limited resources in the past," said Assistant Department Service Officer Gary Putinsky, for VFW Michigan.

For now getting benefits is a process taking about the same amount of time as a soldier's deployment.

"It takes a veteran up to a year minimum," said Putinsky.

Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency is hoping to improve funding and resources so veterans can leave the fight overseas.

"These benefits are earned and all of that process time is hurting our veterans," said Cawood.

Without an increase in federal funding Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency says it will take another year to bring Michigan up to speed with the rest of the nation.