2018-09-20 / Front Page

Fourth Annual Veterans Summit, Job Fair on Saturday at airport

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Saturday’s Veterans Summit & Job Fair will include military vehicle and aircraft displays, as well as a flyover by vintage WWII trainer planes. 
Photo by Phil Foley Saturday’s Veterans Summit & Job Fair will include military vehicle and aircraft displays, as well as a flyover by vintage WWII trainer planes. Photo by Phil Foley MAYFIELD TWP. — This Saturday marks the 4th Annual Veterans Summit & Job Fair, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the DuPont-Lapeer Airport on Roods Lake Road in Mayfield Township. The event will host a number of employment and benefit opportunities, along with keynote speaker John Todd, as well as local veterans and their families.

Along with connecting veterans with the services and benefits they’re entitled to, the Veterans Summit will offer employers from around the state, including Ford Motor Co., Roush, Kamax and many more. Also, the Scream N Eagles squadron, a group of pilots who fly vintage WWII trainers, will perform a flyover at the airport in their decades-old war planes.

Lapeer County Veterans Affairs Director Ed Ronders, who was worked diligently to bring the event together for the past three years. This will be the second year the Veterans Summit has been held at DuPont-Lapeer Airport, and Ronders says it’ll be even bigger and better than last year.

“In its simplest form, our mission is to connect veterans and their families — and that’s an important aspect, their families — with the benefits and services that they’re owed,” said Ronders. “It also focuses on what I call the five areas of interest for veterans: education, employment, housing, health and suicide prevention. And we build from there.”

Ronders is excited for the summit and its guests, as well as the events planned throughout the course of the day. The Summit will include a townhall-style meeting, which will allow veterans and their families to participate and ask questions, something Ronders insists is imperative for any military personnel — to understand and familiarize themselves with the benefits and services they deserve for their selfless service to their country.

“We’ll have the townhall meeting where we’ll bring in a speaker, maybe two speakers, from Aleda E. Lutz VA Medical Center in Saginaw,” said Ronders. “We’ll have several service officers there as well, and we’ll be talking about healthcare for veterans, but we’ll focus on the Veterans Choice Program, which has become a pain in the neck for a lot of veterans because of how confusing it can be.”

The Veterans Choice Program, which affects enrolled for VA health care, allows vets the use of the Choice Card. This provides “backup” care if a veteran cannot be seen by VA in 30 days, or if VA’s closest medical facility is challenging to access. In situations like this, veterans are eligible to receive care outside VA. The Veterans Choice Program (VCP), which was initially designed to ease access to health care for veterans, has led to millions of dollars in uncompensated care and paperwork snarls that have jeopardized the health or credit records of many veterans.

Ronders assures prospective veteran visitors to the Summit will be enlightened in this area of discussion by guest speaker Michelle Sorie, who oversees integrated healthcare in Saginaw. Also, Keynote Speaker John Todd will share his story with Summit attendees.

“John is a Vietnam veteran whose helicopter was shot down — twice,” said Ronders. “He lost his sight after the second crash, as a result of his injuries. But he went on to great things. Georgetown Law School, then he worked for President Nixon, and from there, he was instrumental in getting a law drafted and through Congress that provides benefits to surviving spouses of veterans, which is obviously significant. Life-saving, even. Now he’s a professor at Rochester College. He’s just such a character, and a great guy.”

Ronders says the support for the Summit “has been overwhelming,” and sponsors will ensure the free event is a great day for all of the men and women who attend. Sponsors include Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, Lapeer County Veterans Affairs, View Newspaper Group, Lapeer County Community Foundation, Kamax, United Way of Lapeer County, Lapeer Industries, Huntington Bank, VFW Post 2492, Roush VIP, Chemical Bank, Milnes Ford, Lakestone Bank & Trust and more.

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