News Story

Nonprofit founded by Michigan veterans gets $5M in 2024 budget to build out camp

Michigan has more than a half-million veterans, more than 5% of the state population

Freedom River Inc., a Brighton-based nonprofit, is receiving a $5 million grant from Michigan taxpayers in 2024 state budget. The organization says its mission is to help military veterans and their families as they reenter civilian life.

Freedom River has already raised $2 million in personal contributions to purchase 93.5 acres for a recreational center near Brighton. Jeff Yeakey, a Desert Storm Army veteran, and his family, pitched the idea to others in 2021, according to the organization’s website.

The organization used its Facebook page on July 31 to announce the $5 million grant from the state. The property, it says, will offer veterans with outdoor activities such as kayaking, horseback riding and hiking. It also will host workshops and skills training.

There are 568,000 veterans who live in Michigan, and 107,576 have been given a disabled rating. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs states 7% of veterans struggle with post-traumatic stress, which would mean nearly 40,000 Michigan veterans have mental health needs.

Freedom River gave credit to state Rep. Jennifer Conlin, D-Ann Arbor Township, on its Facebook page, for help in securing the state funding.

The National Institute of Health reports that when veterans feel more socially connected, symptoms of post-traumatic stress decrease.

Freedom River Inc. did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.