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More than 450 attend inaugural Michigan Military & Veterans Gala

A packed house of more than 450 people honored and celebrated Michigan service members, veterans and veteran advocates Nov. 6 at the inaugural Michigan Military & Veterans Gala at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township.

In the week leading up to Veterans Day, the sold-out event was held in an elegantly transformed hangar and featured a series of awards presented to those who have not only served our country and state in uniform, but those who advocate on their behalf. 

"Thank you all for your hard work and dedication to improving the lives of Michigan's veterans and their families," Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a video message played at the event. "Making Michigan the best state for veterans and their families to live, work and most importantly, call home is no easy task - but your passion, determination and grit will help us achieve this goal."

The 2021 awards, which included Veteran of the Year, Educational Veteran Advocate of the Year, Veteran Friendly County of the Year and others, were chosen by an independent panel of judges and will be featured in the Michigan Heroes Museum in Frankenmuth for the next year. Read more about the awards and the recipients' stories here.

The gala was hosted by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency - the state's coordinating agency for Michigan's nearly 568,000 veterans and their families - and the MVAA's parent organization, the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA).

Presenting the awards were U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul D. Rogers, adjutant general and DMVA director; MVAA Director Zaneta Adams; and Ronnie Cyrus, a retired Michigan National Guardsman and the event's master of ceremonies.

Raphael Chavez-Fernandez, deputy assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, also attended the event and presented the VA Employee of the Year Award.

To learn more about how the MVAA is connecting Michigan veterans and their dependents to the benefits and resources they earned for their service, call 1-800-MICH-VET (1-800-642-4838) or visit