The University of Michigan-Flint will honor the lives and legacies of U.S. service members with a legacy of its own. The 23rd annual Veterans Day Remembrance ceremony will take place Nov. 10 at the downtown campus. All members of the UM-Flint and wider communities are invited to take part in the day that recognizes the achievements and sacrifices of our nation's veterans.
"By inviting everyone to take part in this event, we hope to make visible the strong support veterans have in this community – both on and off campus," said Helen Budd, Student Veterans Resource Center program manager. "Service members, both current and former, uphold our country's values despite immense challenges and personal costs. This ceremony is one way for us to come together and say 'your efforts and sacrifices have not gone unnoticed.'"
After a breakfast at 9 a.m. in the Harding Mott University Center Michigan Rooms, the ceremony at 10 a.m. is keynoted by retired Michigan National Guard Brig. Gen. Michael McDaniel. After more than 27 years of service in the Michigan National Guard, McDaniel joined Western Michigan University's Cooley Law School faculty in 2010, where he is the director of homeland security law programs. McDaniel also lists tenures as deputy assistant secretary for Homeland Defense Strategy, Prevention and Mission Assurance; homeland security adviser to Gov. Jennifer Granholm; and member of the National Governors Association's Homeland Security Advisors Council, among other appointments, to his storied career.
Another yearly hallmark of the ceremony is the POW/MIA remembrance table. Set up during the breakfast and ceremony and overseen by U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Daniel Salazar, the table is a reminder that not all of our veterans come back home. As a senior operating engineer in UM-Flint's Facilities & Operations, Salazar has been involved in the university's Veterans Day programming for more than 20 years.
"Many men and women have sacrificed to invest their experiences in me and in all of us who serve," Salazar said. "It truly is a band of brothers and sisters. There's no doubt you will never find another culture and or environment like the military in the world. To wear the uniform is a true honor."
Later in the day, retired Navy SEAL Master Chief Stephen Drum will speak in the UCEN KIVA, 2-3 p.m., with a reception following in the Michigan Rooms. Drum served in the Navy from 1992-2019, training thousands of elite soldiers and serving in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Following his retirement, Drum has transitioned to speaking and consultancy, helping organizations develop leadership and performance strategies.
While these events are an important opportunity for UM-Flint to demonstrate its support of veterans alongside the community, the university has been recognized for years as a center of excellence for student veterans and their families. For example, UM-Flint was lauded with Gold-level status as a veteran-friendly school by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency for the ninth consecutive year in 2023.
Last year, the SVRC launched the Peer Advisors for Veteran Education program. PAVE is a peer support program that connects incoming student veterans with those already on campus to help newcomers navigate college life and ease the transition from the military to academia by improving their sense of connectedness and belonging.
"We strive to maintain the highest level of service for those who have already served our country," Budd said. "It is our turn to give them the hand-up they have earned through their selfless service."
More information about the SVRC can be found on the center's webpage.
Logan McGrady is the marketing & digital communication manager for the Office of Marketing and Communication.