Several veterans residing or volunteering at Vets Returning Home watch the first flag raising at the building April 15.

Several veterans residing or volunteering at Vets Returning Home watch the first flag raising at the building April 15.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Roseville nonprofit raises flag after 5-year effort to obtain flagpole

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published April 23, 2019

 Army veteran and Vets Returning Home beneficiary Jason White prepares to hoist the stars and stripes for the first time over the nonprofit’s building at 11 Mile Road and Gratiot Avenue.

Army veteran and Vets Returning Home beneficiary Jason White prepares to hoist the stars and stripes for the first time over the nonprofit’s building at 11 Mile Road and Gratiot Avenue.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 Roseville-based nonprofit Vets Returning Home  officially christened its new flagpole April 15  after more than five years trying to obtain one.

Roseville-based nonprofit Vets Returning Home officially christened its new flagpole April 15 after more than five years trying to obtain one.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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ROSEVILLE — A Roseville-based nonprofit for veterans finally was able to raise an American flag over its building thanks to the support of some local businesses.

Vets Returning Home has been trying since its founding in 2014 to put a flagpole on its roof so that it could fly the nation’s colors. Due to a lack of available funds and the difficulties of adding a flagpole to the 80-year-old building, this proved to be a challenge — that is, until April 15.

“A flag is going up for the first time today,” said Carrie Heichel, of Vets Returning Home. “I think this is huge. This is a place for veterans. We should have a flag.”

Local businesses donated their materials and time to help install the flagpole.

“We’ve been trying five years to get this flag,” Heichel said. “We couldn’t find a company to help us and donate the time and materials. Bryan (Duquet), from Signarama in Clinton Township, did step up and make this possible. They had to drill a piece off the roof to install the flagpole.”

Complicating the process was that a place formerly for a flagpole on the building’s roof had deteriorated, and pieces that had allowed the old pole to stand weren’t made anymore, so custom brackets were needed.

“We worked with Flagpoles Etc. and Allied Signs and put (Vets Returning Home) in touch with the right people,” said Duquet, owner of Signarama. “We care about our veterans and the families of our vets because of the sacrifices they make. It’s not just the one person serving; it’s the whole family serving.”

Vets Returning Home was begun by Sandra Bower, who serves the organization not only as the founder, but also as the volunteer director. It had been her pet project for the last five years to obtain a flagpole for the building.

“We had a pole on the side of the building, but we couldn’t fly the branch or service flags on the roof because they would be higher than the American flag, which you can’t do,” said Bower. “With the flag flying from the roof, it also means you can see it all along 11 Mile (Road) and Gratiot (Avenue). It will increase our visibility and let people know this is a place for veterans.”

Having the ability to fly the stars and stripes was something everyone involved felt was important given the nonprofit’s mission. Vets Returning Home is open to anyone who served in the United States military forces. It provides a wide range of services.

“Sandy started Vets Returning Home five years ago,” Heichel explained. “She retired and used her retirement package to create this clean and sober living center for veterans in crisis. We have 43 beds — including six for female veterans, the only place in Macomb or Oakland County to have them. Those staying here have to be drug tested when they come in, and they are then given supplies like clothes and bedding. We help them find resources through the (Veterans Affairs Office) and help walk them through the process. We also have a volunteer therapist and volunteer doctor who can provide basic services and give advice.”

The volunteers at Vets Returning Home continue their efforts for veterans after the veterans leave the facility.

“We try to help them even after they leave through things like our food pantry,” Heichel said. “We try to help with programs like providing gifts for their kids at Christmas or school supplies at the start of the school year. We can help them if they have an issue like car repairs or if they’re behind on a bill. The goal is to stop them from being homeless and to keep them from becoming homeless again.”

Bower said that as long as the flag was missing from the building, a core symbol of what they were trying to accomplish was missing.

“This is a veterans program. I feel like it was almost disrespectful to not have a flag,” said Bower. “We got a lot of feedback from the community about this, and so many people were supportive of this. We needed to make it a priority.”

The staff and resident veterans gathered outside to salute the new flag for the first time April 15.

“It’s absolutely huge, since they had such trouble for five years” said Jason White, an Army veteran and house captain at the facility. “We’re a center for veterans, and to have a flag outside here is a no-brainer. It shows not only pride in our country, but pride in our facility.”

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