We’ve Got Issues: Group envisions ‘full service’ care for Up North veterans

Feb 13, 2017

Aleda E. Lutz VA Medical Center in Saginaw.

Veterans in rural America often have to travel far to get medical care. In northern Michigan, a veteran enrolled in health care through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs might be required to drive to Saginaw, Detroit or Ann Arbor for a doctor’s visit. 

Long wait times are another problem at VA medical centers. 

These challenges have inspired a Traverse City veterans group to envision a new system using local hospitals. The goal of Project Cherry Tree is to build that network, which would be part of what it calls a veterans care community. Leaders say the program would also help veterans with housing, education and job opportunities.

David Mikowski, executive director of Project Cherry Tree, says it could be a model for a nationwide system.