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More Than 500 People in Attendance as Michigan Celebrates its Military and Veterans

light-skinned men wearing hardhats shoveling dirt at ceremony

LANSING, Mich. — More than 500 people honored and celebrated Michigan service members, veterans and veteran advocates Nov. 4 at the Michigan Military & Veterans Gala held at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi.

The following individuals received awards during the ceremony: 

  • Veteran of the Year – Francis “Sonny” Putvin
  • Veteran-Friendly Volunteer of the Year – Erin Maroni
  • Veteran Service Provider of the Year – Denise Marie Formolo
  • Community Outreach and Regional Engagement – Kara Fields
  • MVAA & Trust Fund Exceptional Service – Hillsdale County Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Michigan Army National Guard Recruiter of the Year – SFC Brian M. Cattaneo
  • Michigan Air National Guard Recruiter of the Year – TSgt Jacob Bennette
  • DMVA Employee of the Year – Dawn Shinaver
  • VA Employee of the Year – Carlos F. Castillo

The 2023 awards were chosen by an independent panel of judges and you can read more about the awards and the recipient stories here, Meet our 2023 Michigan Military & Veterans Gala Award Winners.

The gala was hosted by the National Guard Association of Michigan (NGAM) in conjunction with the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) and Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) - the state's coordinating agency for Michigan's more than 530,000 veterans and their families. In the week leading up to Veterans Day, the event was held at The Suburban Collection Showplace and featured a series of awards presented to those who have not only served our state and nation in uniform, but those who advocate on their behalf. 

Remarks were led by U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul D. Rogers, adjutant general and director of the Michigan DMVA; MVAA Director Brian L. Love; and T.J. Pierce, executive director of NGAM. Presenting this year’s awards were U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Bryan Teff, commander of the Michigan Air National Guard and assistant adjutant general of the Michigan DMVA; U.S. Army Col. Ravindra Wagh, commander of the Michigan Army National Guard and assistant adjutant general of the Michigan DMVA; and Arsenal of Democracy Chapter of AUSA Director of Government Affairs, Elizabeth Gomez-Jazowski, and Director of Corporate Affairs, Elaine Taylor. The gala’s master of ceremonies were U.S. Air Force Col. Micaela Brancato, commander, 217th Air Operations Group, 110th Wing, Michigan Air National Guard and MVAA Director Brian L. Love.

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