Military veterans make Washtenaw Community College a greater place, Air Force veteran and WCC Dean of Advanced Manufacturing and Public Service Careers Brandon Roderick Tucker says.
“What (veterans) did not only affected our country, it enriched our community and I think we are a better college because of the veterans that we have enrolled and graduated from here,” Tucker said while emceeing the college’s annual Veterans Day ceremony on Wednesday, November 8. (See video footage of event.)
Since the nation is no longer in a draft phase for military recruitment, Tucker said it takes a conscious decision to enlist. “That shows me the integrity as well as the character and the heart that you have,” he told student veterans in attendance.
Included in the ceremony were renditions of patriotic songs and remarks from student veterans who encouraged and celebrated those who served.
“You have all worn the weight of great responsibility and leadership; I ask you to continue to bare it,” urged Petty Officer Second Class JT Iacovetta, a Navy veteran and president of the WCC chapter of the Student Veterans of America. “Your peers look to your guidance within class. Your instructors look to your dedication in your studies and the administrators look to your maturity.”
Sgt. Thomas J. Harris, Jr., is thankful to attend a school that values its veterans.
“It means a great deal to have the (Wadhams) Veteran Center here,” Harris explained. “Being here at this school … we’re able to have that camaraderie with other veterans that I would not have if I had to just be out in the public with other students.”
Harris has also witnessed first-hand the lengths WCC faculty and staff will go to help veterans.
The day before the Veterans Day ceremony, WCC hosted the annual Hire MI Vet career fair. More than 125 veterans and their family members browsed employers’ booths.
South Lyon resident Paul Stoll, a Navy veteran, found the hiring event helpful by networking with employers as well as receiving resources for programs. He said he was expecting a phone call from at least one employer he connected with at Hire MI Vet.
Stoll said his goal was “to get a job that can support me and my family. I want to get my foot in the door to make a better living.”
Ann Arbor-based moving company Handle With Care President Ray Astani said the work ethics and background of veterans are traits he looks for in good employees. Handle With Care was one of more than 30 companies represented at the hiring event.
While Hire MI Vet offers the annual career fair to veterans and their families, the Ann Arbor-based organization extends their help before then.
“We’re a community initiative that helps veterans obtain meaningful employment,” said Hire MI Vet co-chair Curt Behlow, who served in the Marine Corps. “Hiring events are just one way we open the door to employment.”
The group offers resources such as mock interviews and resume reviews to help improve a veteran’s likelihood of getting a job.
“Veterans’ first need is health care. Second on the priority list is jobs, and that is where we come in,” Hire Mi Vet co-chair Don Deatrick noted.
The military does a poor job at transitioning the “well-trained, highly skilled” members of military into the civilian world, Deatrick said. “That’s the gap we’re trying to fill,” he explained.