On May 25, Memorial Day, we pay tribute to the brave men and women who fought honorably for our nation’s defense – and tragically lost their lives doing so.
Memorial Day is a time of reflection and gratitude for Andre Mason, electrical maintenance journeyman at DTE’s Caniff Service Center. Andre served in the United States Army Reserve from 2003-2015 and said that his fellow soldiers who died didn’t die in battle – they died after coming home.
“When we came home, many soldiers were affected by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other invisible wounds and died by suicide or reckless behavior,” said Andre. “Memorial Day for me is a very sobering day, but it is also a reminder for me to check on my battle buddies – the people I served with.”
Andre explained that COVID-19 is an added reason for all of us to check in on our friends and family.
“These times of isolation can weigh heavy on all of us, especially veterans who are dealing with challenging memories and emotions,” he said. “The simple act of caring could be the difference between celebrating veterans on Veterans Day or remembering them on Memorial Day. We should look after each other.”
Brian Evans, DTE’s capital project manager, served 21 years in the Marine Corps Reserves and retired in 2018. Several of his friends were killed in service during his multiple deployments. He wears a silver bracelet on his right arm every day for a fallen comrade, who died while serving with him in Fallujah, Iraq.
Brian says that Memorial Day is not a celebration or a day off for him; it’s a time to reflect and remember those who served.
“Really every day is Memorial Day for a lot of us,” he said.
Brian encourages people to avoid saying, “Happy Memorial Day,” because it can come across as insensitive to veterans and others who are commemorating the loss of loved ones who served in the armed forces. Instead, he suggests that we say, “I hope you have a good Memorial Day.” And if you meet a veteran or soldier, thank them for their service or ask if there is anything you can do to help.
“People have the best intentions, and we are grateful for everyone’s support,” said Brian.
DTE is proud to employ more than 300 veterans. Last year, DTE’s VETS (Veteran Empowerment, Transition & Support) employee resource group volunteered approximately 200 service hours on behalf of the company. Many of the veterans volunteered to support various veteran service organizations.
Gary Tanner, planning and design senior technician, a member of VETS, leads many of the VETS group’s activities and dedicates most of his free time outside of work to supporting the veteran community.
“The VETS helped more than 160 families with life-impacting financial hardships last year, and are on pace to surpass 200 this year,” said Tanner. “We are invested in a lifetime of service to others. It’s who we are.”
Want to learn more about how DTE is working to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace? Read more about our efforts here.