Aug 25—30, 2013
2013 Veteran’s Conference
Veterans from across the UAW Nation assembled at the hollowed ground of the Walter and May Reuther UAW Family Education Center, more commonly known as Black Lake for the 2013 National Veterans Conference.
The week was full of excitement, patriotism and brotherhood, as over 200 delegates from across the UAW Nation joined together for a week of education and spirit that included many highlights. When asked during the opening program, over half of the delegates raised their hand noting this was their first time at Black Lake, excitement was in the air.
During the week the delegates had classroom discussion with topics of interest including Veterans Legislation, Establishing the Veterans Committee, Veterans Benefits and PTSD. Each Region 8 delegate, was involved and played a role in the classroom with knowledge and experience. Particularly in the PTSD classroom where I, Mark Peterson assisted a long time favorite instructor Domingo Davila. Another favorite that also teaches PTSD, Jim Adams, who has attended and taught during the Region 8 Veterans Conferences was present. Between these two, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, was well covered, educational and was kept very interesting. Brother Adams also held Native American cleansing ceremony out near the beach where over 75 delegates took part in. This ceremony is looked upon with respect and reverence and a moving personal experience. We want to thank brother Adams for this opportunity that rounds out an already emotional and exhilarating week in Black Lake.
During the week, not only was the classroom segment required, quality time was spent in the lecture hall with several well noted speakers that would add to any block of instruction or veterans ceremony. The Tuskegee Airmen were present to give account what it was like during the their WWII days, Major General Robert Smith, whom is responsible for implementation for setting up a Michigan court system solely for veterans was very interesting and laid out the many issues that today's modern veterans face once they are released from the military...thus the reason for the Veterans Court.
Also speaking during the lecture sessions, were the Baese family from northern Michigan. Interesting family as where the family had nine sons all serve our country in war time. 7 of the brothers were still living. Each gave a account of family times and what it was like for them during their service. You could easily tell this was a very patriotic family with a lot of character. Good up-bringing and the love of God and Country certainly was a family lifestyle.
Retired Major Bob Ousley, serves as Co-President, for Honor-Release-Return Inc. a 501-c4 not for profit- POW activist organization spoke to the delegation about the issues dealing with the government.
Rounding out the speakers one of our long time favorites Executive Director for Policy & Government Affairs on the National Staff of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), gave another rousing session of Q&A. Rick has a canny way and draws attention with his vast knowledge in veterans affairs.
During the week the weather was absolutely beautiful, thus allowing delegates to get out around the grounds and explore the grandness of Black Lake.
Region 8 has reason the be particularly proud as Local 2069, located in Dublin Virginia drove up a special designed and veterans theme, class 8- heavy truck from the New River Valley Assembly Plant. Delegates has a lot of opportunity for photo op's and each region group picture was taken with the truck used as the background.
As usual, the week came to a quick halt, the hugs and handshakes were many as the delegates left enthused, re-energized and up to the task of carrying on a longstanding tradition with the UAW Veterans to continue our service not only to our union, our membership but also to our great country. Thank you UAW and each delegate for the opportunity and the experience, this makes us all better union members, citizens and veterans as we “Continue to Serve”.