Release Date: 
Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Henry Ford College is a diverse community that includes members of our nation's armed forces from all walks of life. We have a proud legacy of supporting veterans and active-duty military service members. In 2020, we are not able to gather on our campuses in person to recognize and honor our veterans, so we have created this remembrance website to share some of their stories and celebrate their lives.

If you have an inspiring veteran story to share, tell us about it! Write to communications@hfcc.edu so we can inspire others and expand the great stories of our community.


Nina Denny of the HFC Student Veterans Association shares a Thank-You message

President Kavalhuna’s Veterans Day reflection

President Kavalhuna

What is Veterans Day?

Veterans Day is an American holiday that honors the men and women who have served honorably in the U.S. military. Great Britain, France, Australia, and Canada also celebrate their own Veterans Day.

Veterans Day is different from Memorial Day (celebrated the final Monday in May), which honors members of the military who died while serving.

Veterans Day originated on November 11, 1919, when U.S. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed it Armistice Day to honor veterans of World War I. I wrote about the history of this holiday last year. I encourage you to read it.

Veterans Day is always on November 11. If it falls on a Saturday or Sunday, it is observed on the Friday or Monday nearest the date, so that federal offices may be closed for the day. U.S. mail is not delivered on the holiday.

Who qualifies as a veteran?

U.S. veterans include those who served honorably on active duty with the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard, and those who served for qualifying periods in the National Guard and Reserves. Veterans include those who have served during peacetime or war time.

Not all U.S. military veterans are U.S. citizens. Each year, about 8,000 legal permanent residents serve in the U.S. military.

The U.S. currently has an all-volunteer military. But that has not always been the case. Men have been conscripted (drafted) into the military to serve in America’s wars from the Revolutionary period up to and including the Vietnam War. Due to continued segregation in the military, black men were not conscripted until World War II. Women have never been conscripted.

Veterans at Henry Ford College, and 2020 tributes

Henry Ford College is a Veteran Friendly school and employer. We are proud to welcome all veterans and active-duty military members to our campus community.

We maintain a Veterans Center in the Student and Culinary Arts Center when our campuses are open. We take seriously our role in providing excellent, flexible education to our student veterans. We offer an array of services and assistance to veterans through our Veterans Services Office, led by our VA Certifying Official, Gail Bock. Our services are being offered remotely during the pandemic.

On Veteran’s Day, we usually hold public observances led by our Student Veterans Association (SVA). This year, we are not able to hold on-campus events, but Gail Bock and the Student Veterans Association have been working to help us tell the stories of some of our student veterans. One such story is a family tribute to Private First Class Christopher Sroka. You will find his story on this webpage, along with the stories of 7 HFC veterans.

Henry Ford College is committed to helping our veterans succeed in school and in life. I take this commitment personally. I am here to support you, whether you are a student or a faculty or staff member.

Read President Kavalhuna’s entire message about Veterans Day...

All gave some; some gave all: the Christopher Sroka story

For many, their car is a prized possession. For Mark Sroka, his 2004 Grand Prix GTP is much more than that.

It is a homage to his son, the late U.S. Army Private First Class (PFC) Christopher Sroka, who was part of Company B, 115th BSB, 1st BCT, 1st Cavalry Division, stationed at Fort Hood, TX.

“This car originally belonged to my son,” said Mark.

Alongside Christopher’s friends, Mark restored the Grand Prix when he was ready. The majority of the parts were donated. He worked with Graphik Concepts in Farmington Hills to design a wrap – a digitally printed vinyl covering – transforming the car in honor of Christopher.

The driver’s side of the Grand Prix is dedicated to Christopher’s time in the Army. It includes a photo of him in uniform against a background of stars and stripes and the words "In Loving Memory." The passenger side represents Christopher’s civilian life, with an image of him wearing his soccer gear, accompanied by the words “Loving Son and Brother.”

Read the rest of Christopher Sroka's story here...

Air Force E-5, Eddie Beauregard

Air Force logo

HFC degree and major:
AAS - Engineering Technology – Electrical

Military service:
Air Force 2010-2016
Separated as an E-4, was selected for promotion to E-5 prior to separation
Aircraft electrical and environmental systems specialist

Why he chose education at Henry Ford College:
I’m pursuing my education to use my GI Bill benefits
I chose HFC because it is close to my home and would accept me without holding my previous GPA against me

Comments about his experience at HFC:
Amazing instructors in the Tech building

Air Force E-7, Julie Crespi

Air Force logo

HFC degree and major:
AB - Paralegal

Military Service:
I was in the United States Air Force for 26 1/2 years (1983-2008) and retired at the rank of Master Sergeant (MSgt), enlisted grade E-7.

I did largely secretarial work and was stationed all over the world, mostly overseas. It was a great way of life and a great career, and I recommend it.

Why she chose education at Henry Ford College:
I chose to continue my college education because I was able to go to school with the G.I. Bill, an earned program available to enlisted military personnel. I had always been interested in the Paralegal career field, and I needed the education to move into the Paralegal profession.

I chose Henry Ford College because I was familiar with the College, having grown up in Dearborn Heights, and because Henry Ford is one of the few colleges that offer the Paralegal program.

Henry Ford College provides an excellent education with excellent instructors and the administrative staff have provided really responsive customer service. The Veterans Service Center, and Gail Bock specifically, have provided excellent customer service and assistance! Henry Ford College is not the only institution of higher learning I have attended.

Comments about her experience at HFC:
My experience at Henry Ford College has been top-notch.

  • I have received excellent customer service and instruction (even with the online classes),
  • the instructors are very helpful,
  • the classrooms, computer labs, and the library are all great facilities,
  • the bookstore and staff there were really great (even while the campus is shutdown),
  • assistance with and loan of a chromebook during the Winter Term (when we first closed the school and went online) was really smooth and trouble free.

Navy E-5, Kameren Matchett

Navy logo

HFC degree and major:
Power and Trades Pathways Certificate: Assistant Substation Operator and Electrical Maintenance

Military Service: U.S. Navy, Oct 2010 - Jul 2018
E-5 Petty Officer Second Class
I am a combat veteran

Why he chose education at Henry Ford College:
I wanted to be able qualify for a wider range of careers and with my skillset. Paired with a degree, I can do that.
I chose HFC based on class size to instructor ratio, and the DTE Power and Trades Pathways program.

Comments about his experience at HFC:
The most positive experience I’ve had is similar to what I experienced in the military: I’ve made some life-long friends and have learned about opportunities that I had no clue existed through HFC.

Air Force E-4, Jamaal Poole

Air Force logo

HFC degree and major:
AAS – Electrical Technology

Military service:
I served in the Military from 2009-2015
My rank was E-4 (Senior Airman)
I served in the U.S. Air Force as an Aircraft Rescue and Structural Firefighter. I was awarded Junior Enlisted Firefighter of the Year for 2011.
I was medically discharged, so I couldn’t be a firefighter anymore. I had to pursue a new career. College was highly recommended by the Air Force after my discharge.

Why he chose education at Henry Ford College:
I chose Henry Ford College because I wanted to do something in the area of an electrician, and I found that they had and Electrical program.

I began the Electrical Engineering Program, and then I attended an open house for the Electrical Tech Program. The motors, robots, and trainers I saw were so cool that I wanted to switch my program right away.

Comments about his experience at HFC:
I have learned so many skills in this program, doing things I never thought I would be interested in because I didn’t think I was smart enough. I’ve done everything from programming robots, wiring motors and machine tooling to drafting, to learning how to code in a computer programming class. The Instructors are very knowledgeable, and made it interesting and easy to understand. They also have advice on different directions you can take to pursue your career.

I already work for Ford Motor Company as a Machine Operator. The skills I have attained from the Electrical Tech classes have helped me tremendously in my field. Ford uses some of the same programs, equipment, and interfaces that we work with in the Electrical Tech program at Henry Ford. I have assisted multiple times in troubleshooting different machines to keep production going.

I also plan to transfer to Eastern Michigan University when I have completed my program at HFC. They have an Electrical program that aligns with the same curriculum as HFC.

Veterans Services has done an amazing job at providing resources and assisting me with getting my classes and supplies approved and paid for so all I have to worry about is working hard in the classroom. I couldn’t have asked for a better college experience than HFC.

Army E-4, Jean Small

Army logo

HFC degree and major:
Associate in Business – General Business

Military service:
Served from March 1997 to August 2000 Army as an E4 Specialist.

Why she chose education at Henry Ford College:
I returned to college to further my education because I could not pursue this program in the military when I was enlisted.

I chose HFC because I believe it to be military-friendly and very welcoming. It is a very diverse and a safe environment.

Comments about her experience at HFC:
When I needed help with my studies and funds to get materials that would make it easier for me to learn and retain what I learned, I became a tutor to help other students and worked with students with disabilities.

Army Sergeant First Class, Ed Stokes

Army logo

HFC degree and major:
AAS - Supply Chain Management

Military service:
Served in the U.S. Army/Army Reserve from August, 28, 1981 to June, 16, 2014.
Sergeant First Class, SFC.
I served in Desert Storm as an Aviation Machinist. One of my jobs was to assist in the recovery of down aircraft. If the aircraft couldn't be repaired, it would be destroyed. I never lost an aircraft.

Why he chose education at Henry Ford College:
I was working at the VA in Detroit. I went and talked to my VA counselor, Merri Busch, who told me that I would be going back to school.
Merri told me that Henry Ford College was one of the better schools for a degree in Supply Chain Management.

Comments about his experience at HFC:
The professors and counselors have been a great help. It had been 30 years since I had been in a classroom. It was kind of hard the first semester, but the professors, counselors, and Mrs. Bock were a great help in my staying in school.

Marine E-4, Nino Toigo

Marines logo

HFC degree and program:
BS – Culinary Arts

Military Service:
2014-2018, United States Marine Corps
Corporal / E-4
Served as a Main Battle Tank Crewman in 1st Tank Battalion.

Why he chose education at Henry Ford College:
I decided to peruse a college education because the tuition would be paid for by the G.I. Bill, and I might as well do it while I’m young and have the time.

I chose Henry Ford College because of how close I live to the main campus, and because Henry Ford offers a Culinary Arts program with a bachelor's degree.

Comments about his experience at HFC:
My most positive experience was being granted the opportunity to work with food internally for the College, and externally for the city of Detroit (Eastern Market).


Other stories

Have a story about an HFC veteran that you'd like to share with us? Ask the veteran to email communications@hfcc.edu or tag us on our Facebook page or Twitter.