A special Veterans Day ceremony at Washtenaw Community College on November 12 honored the college’s students, faculty and staff who have served in the U.S. military.

The keynote speaker was WCC history instructor Dr. David Fitzpatrick, a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and former U.S. Army and U.S. Army Reserve Field Artillery Officer who received his master’s and doctoral degrees in military history from the University of Michigan. Fitzpatrick won a 2017 Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award for his book, Emory Upton: Misunderstood Reformer.

Vice President Linda Blakey presents a banner to a group of WCC student veterans during a Veterans Day ceremony on November 12. The banner, which includes notes of thanks from other students and employees of the college, is on display at the Wadhams Veterans Center. | Photo by Kelly Gampel

The event was emceed by WCC Dean of Advanced Technologies and Public Service Careers Brandon Tucker, a U.S. Air Force veteran. Vice President of Student and Academic Services Linda Blakey also participated.

“Every one of our WCC veterans who served this country have done so with selfless bravery,” Blakey said. “Selfless is a word you don’t hear very often. And that’s because not everyone is capable of putting their own lives, needs and families aside in service to our country.”

RELATED: See photo gallery from event

WCC student veteran Justin Godfrey spoke about his personal commitment to an “open and honest conversation about changing our current military culture to ensure active duty servicemembers have everything they need to smoothly transition out of the military, and into jobs and institutions like this one. It pains me to see so much dysfunction out there.”

Godfrey said he was part of that dysfunction, suffering an opiate addiction that started while he was still active in the service. He credited his faith, various services, his GI Bill benefits and the staff at the Wadhams Veterans Center on the WCC campus for helping to pull him through.

During the event, the college’s Student Activities department presented a special banner to the Wadhams Veterans Center. Student Activities asked WCC students and employees to write messages of thanks to the college’s veterans.

“May it serve as a permanent reminder that we thank veterans for their service not just today, but every day,” Blakey said during the presentation. Blakey also thanked the veterans center staff, noting that their hard work has helped the college be designated as a Michigan Veteran Affairs Agency Veteran-Friendly School.


Hire MI Vet event ‘a great success’

For the fourth consecutive year, WCC hosted Hire MI Vet, a community initiative to help military veterans gain meaningful employment. The hiring event was held on campus on November 13 with 34 employers and 10 service providers in attendance. It was open to all local veterans and their families.

According to data collected days after the event, there were 37 veterans offered interviews and 25 others received job offers.

“Those are really impressive numbers for one day, and we anticipate that there will be even more job offers to come,” said WCC Experiential Learning Coordinator Barbara Hauswirth, one of the WCC employees on the planning committee.

RELATED: See photo gallery from event

Hauswirth said that employers often tell her that Hire MI Vet is their favorite recruitment event of the year.

“One recruiter told me that in 14 years of attending career fairs, this was one of the best events he has attended,” Hauswirth said. “And it yielded him several really strong candidates.”

Hire MI Vet is put on through a collaborative partnership with the VA Ann Arbor Health Care System, Michigan Works! Southeast, the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor, Invest in Vets, Veterans Community Action Teams, Talent Investment Agency and Washtenaw Community College.