Clinton Township trustee calls on community to remember ‘invisible’ veterans at Saturday ceremony
Tammy Patton, a U.S. Army veteran and Clinton Township Board of Trustees member, called on the community to spend Veterans Day with introspection and gratitude during a ceremony Saturday.
Patton told a crowd gathered at Resurrection Cemetery that her military experience does not define her, but it helped shape her into the person she is today.
“You all see me standing here,” Patton said. “However, most of you just see me. I wish you could see the thousands of other veterans that metaphorically stand here with me that feel invisible.”
The event was one of four local annual events recognizing U.S. military veterans, nearly 5,000 of whom the U.S. Census Bureau estimates have lived in the township between 2017 and 2021.
Detroit-native Patton reflected on her journey from being in the Army to earning several degrees and becoming the first African American elected to Clinton Township’s Board of Trustees.
Patton decided to join the military before she turned 18 – a life-changing decision she’s still learning from, she said.
She said several veterans she knew personally committed suicide or turned to addiction to cope, citing statistics which show veteran suicides occur at a higher rate than civilian suicides.
From military sexual trauma to PTSD and homelessness, veterans carry many invisible scars, Patton said.
“Some of the so-called ‘statistics’ are around us the whole time,” she said. “They are our coworkers, our neighbors, the women and men walking past you in the grocery store, post office. Some are sitting right here next to you today.”
The barriers veterans face in accessing benefits and services to heal highlight deeper systemic issues that need to be addressed, Patton said.