Police investigate act of vandalism at Veterans Tribute of Oakland Township

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published October 27, 2021

 The Veterans Tribute of Oakland Township was recently damaged by vandals.

The Veterans Tribute of Oakland Township was recently damaged by vandals.

Photo provided by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office

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OAKLAND TOWNSHIP — Deputies from the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office are investigating after a panel of glass from the Veterans Tribute of Oakland Township was vandalized.

Deputies from the Oakland Township substation were called to the Veterans Tribute of Oakland Township, located at 5236 Adams Road, on a report of damage to the monument at around 9:15 a.m. Oct. 9.

Mark Gerhard, who serves on the Veterans Tribute of Oakland Township board of directors, said a local chapter of the Blue Star Mothers of America group that had requested to use the site for an early morning meeting alerted the board to the vandalism that morning.

Upon their arrival, group members discovered that a large glass panel representing the Coast Guard was entirely shattered and there was a large hole in the lower portion of the panel.

“They had a swearing-in of new officers and so forth, and an induction of new members and they actually met out there,” Gerhard said. “The irony of it is, the president of the club has a son in the Coast Guard, so she really took it hard — to show up and see the panel smashed.”

Gerhard then notified the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office of the damage and met deputies on-site, where they discovered a large stone approximately 20 feet down the hill from the memorial.

“The emotional and psychological impact to not only the community, but to veterans specifically — like myself and many of the board members — is pretty dramatic. We take it personally, and it’s not something that we take lightly,” Gerhard said. “It’s disappointing that we have to go to this measure now and add expensive security cameras.”

Replacing the glass panel will also be costly — to the tune of between $20,000 and $50,000 based on early estimates.

“It’s extremely difficult to make, and then, of course, there is the laser etching that has to go into it as well. For something that size, it’s very costly,” Gerhard said. “The other issue is getting it installed, because it takes a significantly high crane to get that thing leveled in.”

Those wishing to donate to the cause can visit VTOTMI.org and click on the “donations” tab near the top of the page. Donations go directly to the Community Foundation of Greater Rochester and will be used by the Veterans Tribute of Oakland Township board of directors to support the construction and maintenance of the Veterans Tribute.

The Veterans Tribute of Oakland Township is a nonprofit corporation created solely for the construction and operation of a tribute in Oakland Township to the United States armed forces and military veterans. The monument, which was dedicated in 2018, features clear glass-etched markers honoring all branches of the military rising skyward and encircling the American flag, which are all illuminated at night. The $2.2 million tribute was built with donated funds, materials and construction over a two-year project schedule.

Anyone with information regarding the crime should contact the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office at (248) 858-5000.

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