Here are some frequently asked questions about the Buddy-to-Buddy Program. If you do not see an answer to your question below, please contact us. Click on one of the categories below to view answers to these common questions.

General Questions Getting Assistance Questions Volunteering Questions

GENERAL QUESTIONS

Does Buddy-to-Buddy offer any direct services to veterans, such as emergency financial assistance, rides to medical appointments, benefit claims review, etc.?
No. The program does not offer any direct services to veterans. We connect service members and veterans in need with Volunteer Veterans, who can identify appropriate resources and refer the soldier or veteran to a point of contact at the resource.

Is the Buddy-to-Buddy Program available anywhere in Michigan?
Yes. The program has volunteers located across the state of Michigan, in both the Lower and Upper Peninsulas. To provide assistance, the program connects a service member or veteran in need with a volunteer that lives near them or, if the soldier is active with the National Guard, with a volunteer that is assigned to their unit/armory.

Is the Buddy-to-Buddy Program available only at Michigan Army National Guard armories?
The program has volunteers at almost all MIARNG armories and is currently expanding to other sites, such as the Army Walker Reserve Center and Selfridge. For questions on availability in any specific facility, please contact us at buddytobuddyvvp@umich.edu.

Is there a program similar to Buddy-to-Buddy in states other than Michigan? How can I bring Buddy-to-Buddy to my state?
Now that the program has been successful in Michigan, we are working on expanding to other states. For questions regarding starting the program in your state, please email us at buddytobuddyvvp@umich.edu, and our leadership will be in contact with you.

I would like to make a donation to Buddy-to-Buddy. How do I go about doing that?
First of all, thank you for considering making a donation to the program! We truly appreciate your support. To make a donation online, please visit www.giving.umich.edu/give/mspan and click on “MSpan Buddy to Buddy – 318662.” To make a gift by phone or by mail, please contact Nancy Davis, Associate Director of Development, University of Michigan Depression Center, at (734) 763-4858 or nandavis@umich.edu.

Note: Please make checks payable to University of Michigan Depression Center, M-SPAN and use the Memo line in your check to designate “Buddy-to-Buddy” as the special fund.

I would like to have someone from the program speak at an event. Who should I contact?
If your organization is organizing a community or veteran-specific event in Michigan, we would be happy to have program staff or one of our volunteers set up a Buddy-to-Buddy table or make a presentation. Please contact our Program Manager Stephanie Zarb with more details.

I would like to have some Buddy-to-Buddy brochures and flyers in my office. Who should I contact to obtain some?
Please email us at buddytobuddyvvp@umich.edu with your contact information and we will be happy to send you Buddy-to-Buddy program materials.

Where is the Buddy-to-Buddy Program central office?
Our office is located at 2025 Traverwood, Suite C, Ann Arbor, MI, 48105.

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GETTING ASSISTANCE

Is there a fee to get help from the program?
No. The program is completely free.

What can a Volunteer Veteran do for me?
Our Volunteer Veterans are veterans trained in communication skills and local, state, and federal resources available to service members and veterans. They are also knowledgeable about community resources that are not specific to military veterans. Volunteer Veterans can guide you through the difficult process of identifying, reaching out to, and following-up with a resource or service that can remedy your situation. Our network of volunteers across Michigan constantly reaches out to different pokies resources and identifies which programs and organizations have been effective. Volunteers are able to direct you to the appropriate resource that will fit your specific needs, as well as provide a listening ear and support you along the way.

What kind of situations can a Volunteer Veteran help me with?
Volunteer Veterans can assist you in finding resources for problems relating to education, employment, finances, benefit claims, legal matters, medical issues, mental health, substance abuse, relationship issues, and any other identified needs.

I don’t live in Michigan, can I receive assistance from the program?
Unfortunately, resources vary from state to state and our expertise is built on years of researching and connecting with Michigan resources. We advise that you contact your local County Veteran Service Officer to find out more about resources near you.

Do I have to be a National Guard soldier to receive assistance?
No. The program will assist any service member or veteran in Michigan.

I am a MIARNG soldier and want to be connected with a Volunteer Veteran. Will what I say to them get back to my chain of command?
No. What you share with a Volunteer Veteran is completely confidential and your conversation is in no way reported to your chain of command without your permission. The only exceptions are in emeregencies such as suicidal or homicidal ideation and suspected child abuse.

I am a veteran and would like to be connected with a Volunteer Veteran. Do I have to provide my DD214 to receive help from the program? Do I need to have an honorable or other-than-dishonorable discharge in order to receive assistance from the program?
No. The program does not look at any kind of military record for those we assist. We will assist any Michigan veteran regardless of discharge status.

Does the program offer assistance to family members (spouses, parents, children) of veterans?
The program is focused on assisting the service members and veterans themselves, however, other M-SPAN Programs are focused on helping military families. Please visit www.m-span.org for information on our Child and Family programs.

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VOLUNTEERING

I’m not a veteran, can I still volunteer with the program?
We do not currently have volunteer opportunities for non-veterans. We require that all our volunteers be military veterans in order to build trust and connect with the soldiers and veterans they serve on a deeper level.

I’m not a Post-9/11 veteran, can I volunteer with the program?
Yes. As long as you are a veteran of any era, you are eligible to be a Volunter Veteran. Many of our volunteers are Vietnam, Korea, and Desert Storm-era veterans.

I’m currently in the National Guard, can I volunteer with the program?
This is assessed on a case-by-case basis. If a soldier is in the process of retiring or leaving the Guard, we can definitely work with him/her on becoming a Volunteer Veteran once their transition out of the Guard is completed. If they are not leaving the Guard in the forseable future, the program has a tier within the National Guard called Buddy-One, in which soldiers in-unit serve as a first-line contact for soldiers in their unit throughout the deployment cycle. To learn more about the Buddy-One program, contact the Buddy-to-Buddy Program OIC for the Guard, CPT Nicholas Anderson.

I work for a large organization, and we have a group interested in volunteering with the program for Veterans Day/ National Day of Service/ Memorial Day/ etc. Are there any opportunities available?
Unfortunately, we do not have any one-day volunteering opportunities or opportunities for large groups.

I’m a veteran interested in being a Volunteer Veteran. What exactly would I be doing in the program?
As a volunteer, you would be assigned to a National Guard unit and be placed at an armory where you would attend one drill weekend per month with the soldiers of that unit. Volunteer Veterans provide support to the soldiers and information on resources that address their specific needs. Our volunteers participate in weekly support calls with Program Staff and other volunteers, where resources are shared and concerns are discussed. Volunteer Veterans also provide continued support through telephone calls to the soldiers.

How do I apply to be a Volunteer Veteran?
Please apply online through our Application page.

What does the application process entail? How long will it take for me to start volunteering?
Once your application is received, it will be reviewed by one of our Regional Coordinators, who will contact you in 1-3 days for an interview to ensure you are a good fit for the program. After the interview, you will go through a one-day training session. The program does an average of one training a month. After the training, a background check will be done. The background check takes two weeks to be completed, and in the interim, our Program Coordinator will working with the Guard in order to assign you to an armory. After the background check is completed and a unit is assigned, you will be set to start volunteering. Please be advised that it may be a month between your time of application and when you begin doing your volunteer work.

What does the one-day training cover?
In the training, we cover program policies, volunteer roles and responsibilities, what to expect in the armories, communication skills, recognizing potential problems, handling emergencies, using the volunteer website, Michigan resources, and other useful information for volunteers.

Can I choose the armory where I will be assigned?
We will definitely take any requests and personal preferences into consideration, however, we work with the Guard in order to identify which units and armories are in most need of a volunteer. We also try to assign volunteers to armories that are within 50 miles of their place of residence.

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