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 Vietnam veteran Pat Daniels, center, poses with the Macomb County Board of Commissioners Nov. 7 after being recognized as Veteran of the Year. The inaugural award will bear his name moving forward.

Vietnam veteran Pat Daniels, center, poses with the Macomb County Board of Commissioners Nov. 7 after being recognized as Veteran of the Year. The inaugural award will bear his name moving forward.

Photo provided by the Macomb County Board of Commissioners

Vet receives honor for contributions

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published November 14, 2019


MACOMB COUNTY — Pat Daniels wakes up every day and tells other vets, “I got your six.”

Daniels, a Clinton Township resident who served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War from 1970 to 1971, was honored Nov. 7 by the Macomb County Board of Commissioners as Veteran of the Year.

“Pat Daniels is the epitome of a veteran who supports his community and fellow veterans,” said Board Chair Bob Smith. “When speaking of veteran affairs in Macomb County, he is the first individual to come to mind, and his service to others explains why.”

This is the first year of the award, created to express gratitude to county veterans who have made selfless contributions toward the country and community. Daniels, who was nominated by Macomb County Veterans Services Director Laura Rios, was chosen out of 26 nominated veterans.

One nominator wrote of Daniels: “He has been an advocate for veterans 24/7. He is the voice of veterans in our county.”

Due to his positive influence on the county and vets, the Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to rename the award the Pat Daniels Macomb County Veteran of the Year Award.

“I was honored and humbled,” Daniels said. “The things that I do for veterans, things I’ve been doing for 40 years, was never about the recognition. It was always about helping the veterans. It’s just beyond anything I certainly deserve.”

In addition to serving on the Veterans Affairs Commission for 20 years and holding numerous positions within the Mount Clemens VFW and American Legion, he helped start the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 154 in 1991.

The chapter, currently located on 15 Mile Road in Clinton Township, was the first in the nation to reach 1,000 members. Currently, Daniels said, it’s the third-largest chapter in the U.S.

“Every day some veteran walks into that veteran center and gets some kind of help,” Daniels said, whether it’s food, counseling or otherwise. He said it’s one of his proudest endeavors because “every day it helps somebody.”

Daniels also helps facilitate clothing drives to help homeless vets who are without coats, hats, gloves and scarves. He is the chairman of the annual Ride for Freedom motorcycle ride, which begins at Wolverine Harley-Davidson on Gratiot Avenue and involves participants biking around the county to raise money.

This year the ride raised $32,000, with half of the proceeds going to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Detroit and the other half going to the Fisher House.

He and others “roll out the red carpet” for vets, making a big deal of who they are and when they served. Daniels recalled one vet taking part for his first time.

“He said, ‘I never got this welcome home when I came back,’” Daniels said. “He was so excited he was in tears.”

Instead of talking about himself, Daniels praised the work of everyone else. He said he wakes up every day with the intention of making somebody else’s life better — notably vets who served tours in Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq or Afghanistan who need to “deal with the demons.”

He said veterans have been left in the dust over the years, just figuring out how to survive when they come home. On average, he said, 42 vets commit suicide per day.

As Daniels told the Board of Commissioners, “The only thing we owe (veterans) is everything.

“This will be there for my children and great-grandchildren,” he said. “It’s a legacy I certainly wasn’t expecting to leave. I’m in awe and so humbled by what (the Board of Commissioners) did.

“It’s not me, it’s we. Ideas are just ideas unless somebody buys into it.”