State of the State to Include Painting in Tribute to Oxford 

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January 24, 2022

Contact: [email protected]   


Gov. Whitmer Announces 2022 State of the State Program to Include Student Painting in Tribute to Oxford


LANSING, Mich. – Governor Gretchen Whitmer today announced that the 2022 State of the State program will pay tribute to the victims, families, and entire Oxford community with a painting by local student Luke. Luke pays homage with a painting of a photo that was taken in the parking lot of Oxford High School a week before the tragedy. The meaningful art piece will be featured inside the 2022 State of the State program cover.


“What is most special to me about Oxford are the stunning sunsets and sunrises atop North Oxford Road which brings light to a new day,” said Oxford High School student, Luke.


“Oxford is a strong, resilient community, and Michiganders everywhere stand with the victims, families, and entire community,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “Luke’s depiction of the Oxford sky is beautiful. It reminds all of us to look up and look out for each other. I want to thank Luke for taking the time to create this masterpiece and for enshrining something he loves about his hometown into Michigan’s history.”


Student Painting in Tribute to Oxford


During her 2022 State of the State address, Governor Whitmer will share her comprehensive vision for Michigan and lay out policy proposals to put Michiganders first. She will speak to the progress we’ve made together and the kitchen-table issues that matter most to working families.


The 2022 State of the State address will be held in a virtual format and broadcast live throughout the state on Wednesday, January 26 at 7:00PM.

Whitmer Presents Purple Hearts to National Guard

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January 24, 2022

Contact: Michael Kroll, [email protected]


Gov. Whitmer Presents Purple Hearts to Michigan National Guard Soldiers


LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Whitmer yesterday presented the Purple Heart to Soldiers of the Michigan National Guard (MING) for injuries sustained January 8, 2020 during an Iranian ballistic missile attack while deployed to Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.


The ceremony was held at the Grand Ledge Army Aviation Support Facility. At the time of the attack, the injured soldiers were MEDEVAC personnel within Detachment 1, Company C, 3-238th General Support Aviation Battalion. Three soldiers, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jason Zylstra, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael Goebel and Sgt. Joseph Suchowolec, were present to receive the Purple Heart. Sgt. Andrew Burton, formerly with the MING, Warrant Officer Dalton Hamilton and Sgt. Derrick Bimer were unable to attend. Sgt. 1st Class Leonard Adams who was awarded the Purple Heart on May 5, 2020 in a ceremony at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, was also recognized at the ceremony.


“I am honored to recognize these Soldiers whose dedication and commitment to their mission was clearly demonstrated by their actions while deployed in Iraq,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “On behalf of the entire state of Michigan, thank you for your service to our state and nation. You are the embodiment of bravery and valor and represent the best of us.”


“These Soldiers answered the call to serve and performed admirably while deployed to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul D. Rogers, adjutant general and director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “We owe them and their families our sincerest appreciation and gratitude for putting themselves in harm’s way so that we can continue to enjoy our freedoms.”


The Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the President to those wounded or killed while serving with the U.S. military. Originally established by General George Washington as the Badge of Military Merit, it was revived in 1932 through an executive order with the first Purple Heart awarded to General Douglas MacArthur.


Purple Heart Presentation


Purple Heart Presentation


Purple Heart Presentation


Purple Heart Presentation


Purple Heart Presentation


Purple Heart Presentation


Purple Heart Presentation


Purple Heart Presentation


Purple Heart Presentation



About Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs

The Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) synchronizes strategic, legislative and fiscal initiatives to build and sustain military readiness, care and advocacy for veterans and cultivate purposeful partnerships. Branch operations include Michigan Veteran Homes, Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, State Operations, Army National Guard and Air National Guard which stand in support of our mission to serve every member. For more information, please visit:

MDHHS describes child welfare system progress in court

MDHHS describes child welfare system progress in court

MDHHS banner with logo no names


CONTACT: Bob Wheaton, 517-281-1701,

MDHHS describes child welfare system progress in court

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) today outlined progress that has improved the well-being of youth involved in the state’s child welfare system.

MDHHS appeared virtually in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan for the latest report from federal court monitors who have been tracking the progress since a court settlement in 2008 following a 2006 lawsuit.

“Michigan has made great progress over the past 13 years in keeping children safe and providing services to families,” said MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel. “While we realize we still have work to do, we strongly believe we have a self-reliant child welfare system and are moving closer to a system that does not need federal court oversight.”

In court, Hertel and MDHHS child welfare leaders shared improvements that include:

  • A substantial decrease in the number of children in foster care. Michigan had more than 19,000 children in care in 2008. Today, there are just over 10,000.
  • A large decrease in children placed in congregate care facilities as more children are placed in family foster homes or reunified with their parents. In 2008, Michigan had more than 1,200 children in the group facilities, compared to about 450 today.
  • A substantial decline in overdue Children’s Protective Services investigations of suspected child abuse and neglect – from 1,260 in July 2019 to only 22 at the end of 2021.
  • Strategies that seek the voice of youth and families, including formation of a parent advisory board and another advisory group made up of people who have experienced Michigan’s child welfare system, including youth and foster parents.
  • A decline over the last 12 years in children being removed from their homes along with an increase over the same period in children exiting care to be reunified with their families or adopted.
  • A significant decline in physical restraint of youth in child-caring facilities over the last two years.
  • A substantial improvement since 2019 in the safety of children who are in foster care.

Hertel told the court the department hopes to be able to exit federal court oversight by the end of 2022. Today, federal monitors released a progress report for the six months ending Dec. 31, 2020. The report showed that caseloads for Children’s Protective Services staff and workers who monitor private child welfare agency staff continued to meet the settlement’s standards.

MDHHS data shows the rate of child maltreatment in foster care for fiscal year 2020 improved to 4.7 per 100,000 days in foster care – well below the 9.7 rate required by the court and down significantly from 2019.

“I am particularly proud of the improvements we have made in increasing safety for children in foster care” said Demetrius Starling, executive director of MDHHS’s Children’s Services Agency. “Keeping children safe is our top priority. Our staff and private partner agencies have worked hard to protect children who are in foster care. We will strive to do better and continue our efforts to make improvements that will keep children safe and allow us to exit court oversight.

While the progress has been sustainable, the department recognizes further improvements are needed. MDHHS will work to address challenges identified in the report, including improved documentation of investigations of maltreatment in care, oversight of contracted agencies, and finding children in foster care a permanent home through reunification or adoption within 12 months.

Judge Nancy G. Edmunds asked MDHHS to work with the federally appointed court monitors on a plan to focus on select areas that are monitored by the court using up-to-date data and provide an update to the court on April 20.

To view the latest federal court monitor report and other information, go to

OC Focused on Vaccinations During COVID-19 Surge

OC Focused on Vaccinations During COVID-19 Surge

Oakland County Focused on Vaccinations During COVID-19 Surge

Pontiac, Michigan – Two additional schools will be participating in Oakland County Health Division’s school-based COVID-19 vaccine clinicsPontiac Academy for Excellence on Jan. 26 and Hazel Park Junior High School on Feb. 3, both from 4-6 p.m. About 291,000 Oakland County residents remain unvaccinated, 102,000 of whom are 19 years old or younger.

The Health Division continues to administer pediatric, first, second, third, and booster doses for all eligible residents at its North Oakland Health Center in Pontiac, South Oakland Health Center in Southfield, and other community clinics. To schedule an appointment, click on or contact the Nurse on Call at 800-848-5533.

New COVID-19 cases in Oakland County continued to rise last week while the percent positivity rate for COVID testing dipped. There were more than 32,000 confirmed and probable cases in the county from Jan. 3 – 16, up 3,000 from the previous week’s report. Residents 18 years old or younger accounted for almost one in four of the new cases. The seven-day percent positivity rate for COVID tests dropped a half-percentage point to 32.76 percent.

Vaccinations along with masking, social distancing, and remaining at home when symptomatic remain the most effective ways to limit the spread of the virus and minimize severe illness.

The Health Division also continues to host drive-through testing for COVID-19 four days a week. To make an appointment or for locations, go to and click on the COVID Testing button or contact the Nurse on Call.

The following is an update on COVID-19 vaccine coverage for Oakland County residents, according to the State of Michigan COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard as of Jan. 18, 2022:

  • Total eligible residents 5 years old and older: 1,190,128
    • Number of residents 5 and older who have received first dose: 898,954
    • Number of residents 5 and older who have completed vaccination: 816,212
    • Vaccine coverage for residents 5 and older: 75.5 percent
  • Total eligible residents 12 years old and older: 1,091,389
    • Number of residents 12 and older who have received first dose: 861,644
    • Number of residents 12 and older who have completed vaccination: 787,849
    • Vaccine coverage for residents 12 and older: 79 percent
  • Total eligible residents 16 years old and older: 1,029,737
    • Number of residents 16 and older who have received first dose: 823,364
    • Number of residents 16 and older who have completed vaccination: 752,690
    • Vaccine coverage for residents 16 and older: 80.0 percent
  • Total eligible senior residents 65 years old and older: 217,676
    • Number of senior residents who have received first dose: 202,363
    • Number of senior residents who have completed vaccination: 186,567
    • Vaccine coverage for senior residents: 93.0 percent
  • Total primary series doses administered in Oakland County: 1,648,523
  • Total third and booster doses administered in Oakland County: 380,526

Believe in Michigan: Delivering for Older Michiganders

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January 22, 2022

Contact: [email protected]


Believe in Michigan: Delivering for Older Michiganders

Michiganders celebrate why they believe in Michigan through video series leading up to Governor Whitmer’s State of the State address


LANSING, Mich. – Leading up to the Governor’s State of the State address, Gov. Whitmer’s team set out to hear from Michiganders across the state on why they believe in Michigan. We’ll share their thoughts each day leading up to the address in a video series.


“We have to do more to help older Michiganders access affordable healthcare, retire with dignity, and have attainable, affordable housing,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “I am committed to driving down the cost of prescription drugs, easing the tax burden on seniors, and expanding access to nursing homes and alternatives. We will build on our reputation as an ‘age-friendly’ state and continue putting seniors first.”


Frankie Jones



“I’ve been in Michigan ever since I was six years old, and I love Michigan,” said Frankie Jones, a retired resident from Ypsilanti. “I love the community because we are a close-knit community.


After sharing her story of loss, she noted she still has hope in her home state, “What gives me hope is that we’re still standing. We’re still thriving. There’s some good people in Michigan. We are going to continue to have hope and love, and there are people here that want the same thing that most of us want. And that’s like living a good life.”


Governor Whitmer’s Focus on Delivering for Older Michiganders

The Whitmer administration helped Michigan become the first “Age-Friendly State” in the Midwest to ensure the state is prepared for dramatic and imminent demographic changes and that communities can take steps to accommodate all ages.


In state budgets year after year, the governor consistently invested in programs supporting older Michiganders including increasing nursing home support payments; expanding services to age in place, senior home care, and access to senior centers; improving preventative services, transportation options, and meal delivery; and combatting elder abuse.


The governor signed an executive order creating the new Health and Aging Services Administration (HASA) within the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to provide more coordinated services to Michigan’s growing aging population by combining the former MDHHS Aging and Adult Services Agency and Medical Services Administration under one umbrella within MDHHS. Michigan’s Medicaid Office is also part of the new HASA.


Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Whitmer made seniors a priority by protecting residents and staff in long-term care facilities. Executive Order (EO) 2020-191 maintained strong protocols in nursing homes to protect seniors. The governor signed another EO establishing the Nursing Home Workforce Stabilization Council to identify review, develop, and recommend policies, administrative actions, legislative changes, and other approaches to support high-quality nursing home care. In addition, Gov. Whitmer has:


  • Proposed an elimination of the pension tax to provide an $800 tax break to over 400,000 seniors with pensions in Michigan.
  • Supported distribution of nearly 1.6 million tests to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities
  • Oversaw the delivery of 1,279,594 meals to elderly adults in congregate care.