John Elliott, a local Marine veteran, contacted the VFW seeking assistance with installing a ramp on his home in Lincoln Park. John had recently suffered a debilitating stroke and needed to begin using a wheelchair. John has physical therapy twice a week as part of his treatment and couldn’t get in and out of his house without additional people helping him.

Other external services weren’t able to accommodate John, so the VFW reached out to their fellow veterans for assistance. Charlie Crosby, safety and health expert in Distribution Operations and chair of our VETS Energy Group, saw the request and reached out to Gary Tanner, a senior technician in Distribution Operations, and the chair of our VETS Disabled Team.

This past year, Gary was contacted by Disabled Team member, and manager in Gas Operations, Matt Gargac, informing of a ramp at our company’s Lynch Road facility that was going to be scrapped. Gary got approval to use the ramp from Renee Tomina, vice president, Gas Operations, and Tony Tomczak, vice president, Corporate Services.

Matt worked with Jeff Sobiechowski, director, Facilities, and Stephen Orsargos, manager, Portfolio and Space Management, and their team drafted drawings for John and his family to submit for the city permit. 

The Lynch Road facilities team mocked up the build and then transported the ramp to the veteran’s home in Lincoln Park.  On Oct. 12, volunteers from our Lynch Road facility and VETS group installed the ramp on John’s home. Following the installation and approved city inspection, John tried out his new ramp amid smiles of joy from the volunteers. Gary and Brian Martin of the Wyandotte VFW 1136 post presented challenge coins to John. This is the second ramp project the VETS Group Disabled Team has completed in their service territory in the past three years.  ​​​​​​​

“Projects like this really go to the heart of who we are at DTE,” said Charlie. “Everyone I asked to help jumped at the opportunity. I’m honored to serve with my coworkers.”​​​​​​​

Special thanks to those who helped onsite the day of the ramp build:

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Gary Tanner
Matt Gargac
Dave Darling
Ryan Scratch
Eric Miloian
Taras Terleckyj
Errin Nelson
Zack McCormick
Keir Krassa
Mark Houston (photos)
Matt Wagner (hi-fives)
Brian Martin, VFW Post 1136
Orville Beauchamp, VFW Post 1136


DTE Energy Group VETS (Veterans Empowerment Transition & Support) help to install a wheelchair ramp for a Veteran in Lincoln Park, Michigan.