August 21, 2023

Black Lake Veterans Conference

The veterans conference at the Walter and May Reuther UAW Family Education Center (Black Lake) was held 13-18 August 2023. As always, the Center offered opportunities for relaxation and fellowship with other Veterans. Perhaps the best part of having the conference at Black Lake is that you know there is a fellow veteran around every corner!

The topic of this year’s Conference was “UAW Women Veterans - True Courage - Strong Defense”. How awesome was that, as this year marks the 75th anniversary of the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act of 1948! Although women have played a part in our military history long before this, this act actually put into law that women were “allowed” to serve as regular members of the military.

Region 8 had 28 delegates registered for the Conference. They were greeted with Black Lake survival bags at registration, as well as the swag that was handed out by the National Veterans Advisory Council. The Region 8 social took place on the first night of the conference. A drawing was held for a Cruise Customs desk top flag that was created from repurposed KY bourbon barrels. Congrats to our winner, Sue Waugh (Local 2069).

We had some great speakers throughout the week, including Ashley Lewis who stayed over from the UAW Women’s Department. Several of the speakers were women veterans who had overcome adversity during their military service. Jaspen Boothe is a disabled veteran who lost everything to Hurricane Katrina, followed by a diagnosis of an aggressive cancer. She discovered quickly that there were no existing programs for a single mother veteran to go to get help. She would have been homeless had it not been for a relative with a couch. Five years later, not only had Jaspen gotten back on her feet, but she also founded Final Salute Inc, which offers assistance to women veterans and their children.

The classes that were offered throughout the week consisted of PTSD, Veterans Committee, UAW Core Values and, newly added, Ending Sexual Harassment in the Workplace. The instructors were fantastic! The excitement and classroom interaction were clearly defined by the number of delegates who were first time attendees to the conference. The specially painted Freightliner and Volvo trucks stayed for the duration of the conference.

There were also two people manning the mobile vet center, which was available for anyone who needed assistance or information about their services.

As the new Region 8 NVAC and Chair of the Region 8 Veterans Advisory Council, I sincerely hope that all of our delegates enjoyed the conference!

Donna Kerberg
UAW Local 862




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