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The Michigan Daily: Local Michigan veterans share their stories

The Michigan Daily

Washington, DC, November 12, 2015 | Jackie Charniga
Tags: Veterans

Veterans from Michigan who began their service during World War II addressed an audience of several hundred at Hill Auditorium on Wednesday as part of the Service Above Self initiative, which honored veterans observing Veterans Day.

The event was organized by the Ann Arbor Rotary Club in conjunction with Veteran and Military Services to raise funds for families of veterans and for the creation of a Fisher House in Ann Arbor, the first in Michigan. The Fisher House Foundation provides free housing for families of qualifying veterans while they are receiving medical treatment.

Co-organizer Karen Kerry, a former president of Ann Arbor Rotary Club, said publicity for the event alone raised more than $45,000 for the Fisher House, even before the evening’s donations.

Rep. Debbie Dingell (D–Dearborn) said her and Lieut. Gov. Brian Calley (R–Mich.) had empathy for the project due to their shared experiences with loved ones in the hospital.

Dingell’s husband, former Rep. John Dingell (D–Mich.), is an Army veteran and was recently hospitalized.

“When John was in intensive care, I was sitting in the waiting room with family members who had no money for a hotel, they had little kids nobody was taking care of,” Dingell said. “It made me realize we all owe a great deal to the people who serve us but the families are there and supporting them, too.”

Dingell said though there is usually a five-year waiting list for the construction of a Fisher House, the program may be able to expedite the process through a fund-matching plan.

Calley said his family stayed at the Ronald McDonald House when his daughter had open-heart surgery at University Hospital. Calley, who lives more than an hour away, said housing was a critical part of his family’s need at that time.

“If we want to do right by our veterans, we have to do right by their families,” Calley said. “This type of project is something a lot of people can connect to, and say, ‘Of course we need to do this for our veteran’s families.’ ”

Dingell said the land for the Fisher House is already designated, and the project will commence as soon as the funds are gathered.

“I don’t like the word bipartisan because it implies politics,” Dingell said. “Brian and I are friends, the governor and I are friends, and we want to do what’s right for our community.”

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