Patients in Special Tree’s Vocational program went all in to honor Veterans as part of the Vietnam Memorial Moving Wall which stopped in Hamburg, MI over the Labor Day weekend. Patients showed their patriotism by crafting a 4 ft. x 6 ft. American flag made entirely of plastic army men which was displayed with other local memorials at the Moving Wall, a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., which has traveled the U.S. for the past 25 years.
The idea for the flag came up when Steve Kozmor, the Woodshop Coordinator at Special Tree’s Industrial Operations Center (IOC) in Wayne, MI, attended a local VFW event and met a woman who suggested constructing a memorial for the Moving Wall’s visit to Hamburg. Steve became involved with the VFW a few years ago through his friend Bob who served from 1971-1977, and who also volunteers at the IOC. Both Steve and Bob agreed the project would be a wonderful way to involve patients in the Vocational Rehabilitation Program.
Under Steve’s direction, patients spent the summer hand-painting 8,000 Army Men red, white, and blue and gluing them together in the shape of the flag at both the Wayne and Troy Vocational Program locations. According to IOC Manager Jacob Spicer, Steve and Bob wanted the army men to represent the establishment of the Armed Forces and to remind people of just how many men and women it takes to protect the country. “At the event, they left about 100 army men for family members of Veterans to glue on the flag and asked them to share a personal story of where their loved-one served in a book near the flag,” said Spicer.
The flag is currently back at the IOC with the hope of it eventually going to the VA Hospital in Ann Arbor. Spicer says patient are in the process of building one of two more on a smaller scale which Steve and Bob will donate or sell with the proceeds going to Veteran Funds such as the War Dog Memorial and groups that support disabled Veterans.