MI Veterans Affairs Agency director visits Marquette

MARQUETTE — The head of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency is visiting the Upper Peninsula this week as part of Michigan Veterans Month.

Jeff Barnes is a veteran himself; he’s a former armored cavalry officer in the U.S. Army. He visited the Jacobetti Home for Veterans in Marquette this morning, meeting residents and presenting awards to staff members.

Some of the awards were for a new music program for the residents.

“(It’s an) amazing effort started by employees where there’s a music program to help veterans cope with some of their therapies,” Barnes said. “It’s something that will probably become a benchmark for veterans’ homes across the country.”

Barnes is also meeting business leaders and NMU president Dr. Fritz Erickson during the trip. He wants to start a conversation about how they can all help veterans move back from the military into the civilian work force.

“We have about 30,000 to 50,000 veterans that we expect — that are post–9/11 vets — to come home in the next three to five years,” Barnes said. “We’re really working with our educators and our employers to make that transition as easy as possible.”

Jacobetti Home staff members also had lunch with Barnes to share their views with him of how the home and its residents are doing.