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I Am a Veteran Campaign

Every Michigan veteran has a story, and we are documenting them. This page is dedicated to the stories of our veterans, including underserved and underrepresented veterans. The stories are part of our marketing campaign called I Served. I Am a Veteran. The goal: motivate other veterans to identify, tell their stories and get connected to the benefits they earned for their service. Dependents of veterans are also encouraged to tell their loved one’s story. By directly addressing the issues our veterans face — such as PTSD, racism and sexism, difficult transitions to civilian life — we want to build a stronger community of veterans and stem veteran suicide. Call us at 1-800-MICH-VET to get connected to benefits and resources.

If you’d like to submit your story, please fill out this Nomination Form and send it to Stories and photos of our veterans will be posted on this page and potentially used for advertising.

Kate Preston holding an image of her late husband

‘My way of giving back:’ MVAA employee honors late husband, Iraq War veteran through her work

Kate Preston is a grants specialist with the MVAA. Her husband, Army veteran Sgt. Darren Preston, passed away in 2015 from an accidental overdose of medications he was given for his injuries. Now, her work in veteran advocacy is a way of honoring her late husband and hopes by sharing her story she'll inspire others to get the support they need. Read Kate Preston's full story.

Tribal veteran Rodney Loonsfoot: Becoming an Ogichidaa

Like his father and grandfather before him, Rodney Loonsfoot served in the military — because serving, he says, is “in our blood.” The Marine Corps veteran — or Ogichidaa, in his native tongue — now serves as an advocate for his fellow veterans in the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.
Read Rodney Loonsfoot's full story
Tribal veteran Rodney Loonsfoot: Becoming an Ogichidaa Video
Retired Maj. Lorrena Black: ‘The Army changed my life’ Video

Retired Maj. Lorrena Black: ‘The Army changed my life’

One of her fellow Army recruits once called her a “wallflower” for following the crowd. But 21 years in the military would turn Lorrena Black into a leader. Despite dealing with racism and verbal abuse, the Army changed her life.
Read Lorrena Black's full story

Air Force veteran Sapphire Pates: 68 combat flights, two wars

Sapphire Pates served as a C-130 loadmaster in the Air Force, flying in and out of battle zones in both Afghanistan and Iraq. She served her country proudly as a man. Later, after an honorable discharge, Pates would transition to a woman.
Read Sapphire Pate's full story
Air Force veteran Sapphire Pates: 68 combat flights, two wars Video
Iraq War veteran Carlos Castillo: Turning pain into promise Video

Iraq War veteran Carlos Castillo: Turning pain into promise

After joining the Marines following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Carlos Castillo would lose close friends in battle — a loss that would send him down “a very dark road.” But he would turn that pain into purpose and become a staunch veteran advocate.
Read Carlos Castillo's full story

Coast Guard veteran Crystal Murry: 'Living my life for me'

Blessed with a strong work ethic and sense of duty, Crystal Murry followed in her family’s patriotic footsteps by joining the Coast Guard. Threatened with a court martial simply because of her lifestyle, she would persevere by “living my life for me.”
Read Crystal Murry's full story
Coast Guard veteran Crystal Murry: 'Living my life for me' Video
Cpl. Robert Holt in uniform

Cpl. Robert Holt battled fascism and racism. At 105, he’s still laughing.

It isn’t until you see Robert Holt laugh with gleeful abandon at the horrors of war and the evils of racism that you can begin to understand this 105-year-old veteran. Drafted into World War II as a 23-year-old college student, Holt was sent to Germany in the mid-1940s. He served in an all-Black unit as part of a segregated Army. Read Robert Holt's full story.

Korean War vet dedicates life to service

94-year-old William “Bill” Wisney has dedicated his life to service. He spent four years in the U.S. Navy as a yeoman and 25 years with the Michigan State Police. Like many veterans from his generation, he never received the benefits he earned for his service. Wisney credits “his pride” for that. But when his family was recently hit with an unexpected expense, he was encouraged to seek out help. Read William "Bill" Wisney's full story.
William “Bill” Wisney photo
WWII Navy veteran Maurice Bud Prottengeier

WWII Navy veteran Maurice "Bud" Prottengeier: Still going strong at 100

In 1942, Maurice “Bud” Prottengeier, an 18-year-old college student, decided to enlist in the Navy along with his friends before they were drafted into World War II. Although that was 82 years ago, the Flint native has no problem recalling the details of his service as a "Seabee" in the war. Read Maurice "Bud" Prottengeier's  full story.

Linda Woods: First woman veteran to carry an Eagle Staff

An Eagle Staff is a sacred symbol in Native American culture. For the tribal member who carries it, it represents tradition and the flag of their nation. For Linda Woods, a member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, it symbolizes her time as a woman veteran, her journey to recovery and her role in helping others in her community. Read Linda Wood's full story.
Linda Woods
headshot of Irene Hosking

WWII Army nurse Irene Hosking: A trailblazer for women veterans

A trailblazer for women veterans, Irene Hosking was one of the first female nurses to give anesthesia to injured soldiers during WWII. In 1946, she was denied entry to her local VFW, but she’d eventually go on to be her post’s first female commander. At 105, Irene says she’d “sign up for the Army all over again” to serve her country. Read Irene Hosking’s full story


WWII veteran George Milekovich: Survived kamikaze attack

Navy veteran George Milekovich survived a Japanese kamikaze attack on his battleship during World War II that killed four fellow sailors. On April 8, 2023, Milekovich turned 100 in Lansing and was honored for his service. “He’s got a lot of grit,” said Anton Milekovich, George’s son. Read the full George Milekovich story.

Allen Dow, George Milekovich, Russ Mckenzie at award ceremony
image of a young Lloyd Clayton in uniform

Peacetime veteran Lloyd Clayton: ‘Others before self’

Lloyd Clayton has always believed in “others before self.” The 82-year-old Flint resident grew up poor in Alabama during the height of the civil rights movement and recalls listening to Martin Luther King Jr.’s sermons at church. He joined the Army in 1957 to earn money. When he ran into financial hardship recently, he turned to the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund for help. Read the full Lloyd Clayton story.

Vietnam veteran Jim McCloughan: Medal of Honor recipient

In the rice paddies of Vietnam, Army Pfc. McCloughan, a combat medic, truly learned what it means to give it your all. To risk your life — and take multiple rounds of shrapnel — for a group of comrades who had quickly become “closer than brothers.” For his heroic efforts, McCloughan earned the military’s highest honor. Read the full Jim McCloughan story.

photo of Jim McCloughan speaking to crowd