VA officer outlines process of controversial van transfer

The 2014 Ford Flex that was transferred from the Veterans Affairs to the Shiawassee County Probate Court is seen Thursday behind the Surbeck Building in Corunna.

CORUNNA — Veterans Affairs Director Mike Reeve Thursday sought to clarify how a van was transferred from the county’s Veterans Affairs Office to the Shiawassee County Probate Court for use.

Reeve told county board members that an individual on the Veterans Affairs Committee was upset they were not consulted over the transfer and has been suggesting the transfer was possibly illegal.

He outlined for the county board how the vehicle was transferred legally.

Reeve said the vehicle is a 2014 Ford Flex that the Shiawassee County Veterans Affairs Office obtained in 2014 from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to transport veterans to appointments.

The van is part of a program the national VA administers, through which local Veterans Affairs offices take possession of vehicles, use them until they reach a certain mileage, then trade the vehicles in for a new one.

Reeve said the van reached the end of the cycle in November 2018 and the Shiawassee County Veterans Affairs began the process of trading it in for a newer vehicle.

The van was turned in to a Veterans Affairs location in Saginaw where it sat for 10 months. Reeve said after the van was turned in he learned the Shiawassee County Probate Court was looking for a vehicle to transport minors to and from school.

He remembered the Ford Flex he had turned in and that the Veterans Affairs has a program through which it will donate vehicles that are past their life cycle.

The process of donating the Ford Flex required several approvals from different VA officials across the state, which Reeve received. After going through all the necessary steps, the Ford Flex was transferred to the Shiawassee County Probate Court on Oct 25, 2019, and has since been in the court’s possession.

Reeve said that since then, people have been spreading rumors about the transfer being illegal. Thursday he presented a letter from the person he said is the ultimate authority on the issue, Aaron Howell, the VA National Utilization Officer, who rebuts those claims.

Howell oversees programs in the VA such as the one that provides vehicles to local chapters.

In his letter, Howell said Reeve and his office “went through the proper procedures for vehicle ownership and transferring/vehicle titling” when it decided to have the Ford Flex transferred to the court.

Reeve said the accusations have been frustrating, since he was just trying to help another county entity. He said he would do the same thing over again, however, because instead of sitting on a lot in Saginaw, the Ford Flex is being put to good use in the county.

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