Category Archives: Veterans

3rd Annual Justin Fitch Memorial Ruck

Justin Fitch holding a veterans patchSaturday, October 6th we honored American Hero Justin Fitch at this year’s Third Annual Justin Fitch Memorial Ruck, at the Chutes and Ladders Pavilion in Houghton’s Kestner Park. The official ceremony began at approximately 2:30pm. Immediately following the event, there was a cookout. Faculty, staff, students and community members attended the event. Additionally, Lt. Col. Christian A. Thompson, Army ROTC 1st Battalion, 107th Engineers, assisted in a dedication ceremony for a memorial that has been placed on the ROTC front lawn in honor of Fitch.

I have had the privilege of overseeing this event the last three years and I continue to be amazed at the way our community has come together to support this incredible cause. —Grant M Beatus

The Carry the Fallen Ruck March is a four-mile hike where participants can choose to carry a weighted pack to symbolize the struggles that veterans go through every day. Justin Fitch ’05, was a Michigan Tech grad who served as a major in the United States Army. Fitch led a ruck march to bring awareness to the fact that 22 veterans a day take their own lives.

Tragically, Justin was diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer in May 2012. After being medically retired from the Army in 2015, he was determined to continue to fight for his brothers in arms. Despite chemotherapy treatments and numerous medical appointments, he fought and marched for his brothers until the day he passed away on October 4, 2015

In an effort to continue what Fitch called his “final mission,” we have teamed up with Active Heroes, a 501(c) (3) charity whose mission is to support all U.S. military service members, veterans and their families through physical, educational and emotional programs in an effort to eliminate suicide.


Veteran Recognition Survey

Exterior of the Memorial Union Building

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Army/Air Force ROTC Cross Country Ski Race Saturday

ROTC_Ski20150327_0022On Saturday (March 18) the two great ROTC programs here at Michigan Tech will compete head-to-head at the Tech Trails to prove which group of cadets has the most stamina and, dare I say it — tenacity — to survive winter and come out on top.

Blair Orr of the Nordic Ski Club has enthusiastically offered to host a cross-country ski race, a 2.2K paired sprint, classic style, beginning at 12:15 p.m. The Army ROTC and Air Force ROTC programs are both very successful, dedicated and proud, as well as intense friendly rivals. The mood promises to be exciting as the cadets give their best effort to prove their mettle in the (hopefully) waning days of winter.

The public is welcome to attend and cheer for their favorite service.


Michigan Tech Veteran Returns to Help Struggling Vets

1478803878In July, Michelle Kovachich began her duties as a readjustment counselor with the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). Her new job brought the Calumet native, a Michigan Tech alumna and US Army veteran, home after more than a decade that took her from Alaska to the Middle East and back again.

Kovachich says she loves to travel and when she graduated from high school she entertained opportunities to pursue her education far away from home. She chose Michigan Tech not necessarily because it was close to home, but because it had exactly what she wanted: a military education.

“I wanted a school with a strong ROTC program and a good relationship with the military. That’s exactly what Tech had and why I chose to go there.”

Her choice turned out to be a good one. Following graduation in 2005 with a degree in social sciences and completion of the ROTC program, Kovachich was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army.

She credits Tech’s ROTC program for preparing her for life in the service. “It wasn’t a surprise,” she says of her transition from college student in Houghton to the 4th Brigade, 25th Infantry Division of the 725th Support Battalion at Fort Richardson, Alaska, near Anchorage.

“Tech’s ROTC program provided the best training and structure. When I went into the military I had an idea of what to expect because of Tech’s ROTC. It wasn’t a surprise because they fed you the information you needed.”

During her five-year service, she experienced the Artic cold of Alaska and war in the Middle East. In 2006 she was deployed to Iraq for 15 months as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2009 she served 13 months as part of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

Read the full story.