Success Story: Movie, panel discussion aims to illuminate impact of war

November 8, 2017

Since 2012, NMC has prioritized the success of student veterans on campus with a host of initiatives led by the office of Military and Veterans Services — from customized orientation to a veterans lounge to efforts to convert service into credits.

Almost Sunrise documentary imageTonight, some NMC veterans will take a step toward connecting the broader community with the experience of contemporary military service by taking part in a panel discussion following the 7 p.m. free screening of Almost Sunrise at Milliken Auditorium. The documentary tells the story of two veterans who embark on a cross-country hike in an effort to heal the psychological wounds left by their military service.

Construction technology student Fernando Cruz is familiar with that restless urge. An Army reservist between 1997 and 2010 who was deployed to Iraq for a year, he too crisscrossed the U.S. for work after his discharge.

“It’s not coincidental,” said Cruz, now of Kingsley, of his nomadic work transporting vehicles, and later for a drill rig company. “I was getting away. I had to get away.”

The father of twin 18-month-old sons, Cruz, 37, thinks there’s a “big disconnect” between civilians and military members. Tonight, he’ll try to help make that connection.

Veterans Day commemoration

Presented by NMC’s chapter of Student Veterans of America and 22 to None, an organization dedicated to stopping veteran suicide, the film comes as NMC prepares to commemorate Veterans Day on campus. The following events are scheduled for Monday, Nov. 13:

  • 8:30 a.m. – Free breakfast for all veterans and active duty military in the Hawk Owl Cafe in West Hall.
  • 9:20 a.m. – Walk of Honor. The campus community is invited to line up along the sidewalks from West Hall to the flagpoles west of the Tanis Building. Led by the Traverse City Central High School drum line, veterans will walk from West Hall to the flagpoles.
  • 9:30 a.m. – Flag-raising ceremony conducted by the VFW with the Traverse City Central High School band.
  • 10 a.m.–noon – Coffee and cake served in West Hall for the entire campus community in honor of veterans.

About five percent of NMC students are veterans. For the third consecutive year NMC has been certified as a Gold-Level Veteran-Friendly School by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency. NMC was also named the fifth-best "Best for Vets" community college nationwide by Military Times in 2016.

NMC will also focus on the student veteran transition in the January 2018 issue of Nexus, which will be published as the nation marks the ten-year anniversary of the post-9/11 GI Bill®, which granted educational benefits to veterans serving after Sept. 11, 2001.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at

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