We all seem to have a lot on our mind these days. Life seems so much more complicated. Not on a football Saturday though. It is a time to relax, escape and enjoy college football.
For some it is a time to give back to try and help others whose day-to-day lives are much more stressful yet so important to the way we live. This Saturday (Nov. 19) the U-M Athletic Department is having Military Appreciation Day to show its support and admiration for the all the branches of the armed services.
On a smaller scale, a group of tailgaters in the Crisler Arena Blue Lot parking area will do the same. On Saturday, they will bring together individuals from the 2-337th Training Support Battalion, also known as the Wolverine Battalion, to enjoy a tailgate experience and Michigan football.
This is not the public display of appreciation that everyone will see at Michigan Stadium. This is a show of appreciation by a few U-M Victors Club members who have been bringing together the Wolverine Battalion for almost three years.
It all started when Beth Bradley (U-M Athletic Development) received a request from a soldier's mom wanting to do something special for her son's command sergeant major, Marty Mieras, a huge Wolverine fan. The ball was signed and sent. The CSM was thrilled with this gift. Elated upon receiving the football, he noted he was coming back for some R&R.
"Beth asked us and another few families if we would be interested in hosting some members of the military," said tailgate crew member Warren Major. "We said yes and just kept it going.
"What's ironic is we didn't even have any idea the battalion's name was the Wolverines."
Other members of the tailgate crew are Warren's wife Cherie, Bob and Sally Elgin, Sarah Elgin, Bruno and Barb Jandasek, Brett and Krista Jandasek, and Herb and Linda Negendank.
Army reserve captain Joseph Sullivan, who works at Arbor Lakes and is contracted by U-M, and Bradley help coordinate the effort.
It is not official; it is just something these families want to do to for the men and women in our military and especially those are returning from Iraq or Afghanistan.
"Last year, we even had a tailgate on the road for all of them," said Major. "They have a Wolverine Battalion in Indiana too, and when we went down there last year, they even gave us a tour of their offices. Like the Wolverines here in Michigan, their offices are all painted maize and blue."
Selfridge AFB is the home for the local Wolverines, while the Indiana Wolverines are located in Camp Atterbury. (Currently, the Wolverine Battalion is headquartered in Waterford. It was moved from Selfridge after individuals suffered Legionnaires Disease in the building on the base.)
This year, there has been one appreciation tailgate, and tomorrow will be number two. The Wolverine Battalion is greatly appreciative. They gave the tailgating families a plaque engraved with the following words:
Award of Excellence for Your Support of the 2-337th TSB (2010) for Efforts and Enthusiasm and Generosity Greatly Appreciated by all of the Troops! Go Wolverines! Hooah!
Everyone responsible for the tailgate was also invited to the battalion's annual Dining Out Gala. There the tailgate crew was treated like royalty.
Next week at the Ohio State game, another member of the Wolverine Battalion will join the tailgate. First sergeant Mike Poll is coming home for a short R&R from Afghanistan. He's been there since May and will return to Afghanistan. His current tour of duty should end in May of 2012. He became a grandfather for the second time in October and will meet his new grandson when he's home.
This small tailgate crew is just trying to say thank you. Even before they can express it, the men and women from the Wolverine Battalion are the ones who are thanking them for opening up their hearts and making these Saturdays special.
Hooah to the men and women of the Wolverines!