11:50 AM

Vietnam Veterans Chapter Funds Mich. Cadet Scholarships

Loretta Fulton
Contributing Writer

A partnership between the Civil Air Patrol Foundation and a Vietnam Veterans of America chapter in Detroit will ensure that over the next five years, needs-based scholarships will be available to assist Michigan cadets who want to further their education.

The scholarship proposal came from John Mullins, finance director for CAP’s Michigan Wing and treasurer for VVA Detroit Chapter 9. Mullins joined the U.S. Army after high school and benefited from the GI Bill after his tour of duty in Vietnam. He used that educational opportunity to become a certified public accountant.

“I think education is incredibly important,” Mullins said. He’s pleased that Chapter 9 membership agreed that CAP was a good place to establish a scholarship fund.

Maj. Gen. Mark Smith, CAP national commander, was grateful that a CAP member suggested the arrangement.

“I am thankful for our Civil Air Patrol members who help to develop relationships with like-minded organizations who might be interested and vested in the success of our cadets,” Smith said. “Our CAP Foundation will work hard to ensure that the scholarship funds are put to the best possible use, helping deserving cadets to excel.”

The Detroit chapter contributed $12,500 to the CAP Foundation to support five scholarships, valued at $2,500 each, over the next five years. The scholarships will support Michigan Wing cadets pursuing undergraduate or graduate education. Funds can be used for tuition, books, or room and board at any accredited post-secondary school.

“We like working with military service organizations to help more young people pursue higher learning,” said Paul Palazzolo, chapter president. “The Civil Air Patrol Foundation has a rich legacy of giving financial backing to students, so this was a perfect fit.”

Richard White, a member of the chapter’s board of directors, said previous donations to support educational opportunities had gone to the Detroit Public Schools Foundation for Army Junior ROTC scholarships and to the Michigan Marine Corps League Foundation, so a contribution to the CAP Foundation sounded like a good idea.

White contacted Kristina Jones, CAP chief of philanthropy, who was thrilled with the proposal.

“We hope this opens the door for other groups to do the same type of partnership with us,” Jones said. “It’s an exciting opportunity.”

Establishing a scholarship fund to be managed by the CAP Foundation fit perfectly with the Detroit chapter’s history and mission, Mullins said. The chapter has been community-focused since its founding.The chapter benefited financially from the sale of a building in downtown Detroit in the 1980s and chose to use that money primarily to assist two groups – Vietnam veterans in need and inner-city youth.

After Mullins retired from his career as a CPA, he joined CAP to serve as a pilot. It seemed only natural to connect the two groups as a means of helping young people.

“That’s really how it developed,” Mullins said.

Palazzolo, chapter president, is proud of the chapter’s contributions to Detroit and the surrounding area. The chapter traces its history to the mid-1970s, when returning veterans linked up to focus on health and other needs.

In addition to supporting educational opportunities, the chapter has pushed for veterans causes, including getting a VA hospital in Detroit and contributing to a memorial in Lansing. It’s also helped with a variety of causes, such as establishing a shelter for the homeless, helping save a World War I monument at the state fairgrounds, and working toward a Fisher House in Detroit to provide free lodging for relatives of hospitalized veterans. The chapter also hosts a free luncheon in the summer for local law enforcement.

The selection of the Civil Air Patrol Foundation to manage scholarship funds fits well with the chapter’s history of support. In fact, Curt LaFond, CAP director of cadet programs, believes the Foundation is the perfect choice.

“CAP cadets are patriotic, service-minded young leaders – just the sort of outstanding youth the Vietnam Veterans of America would want to support,” LaFond said.

Cadets even wear an Air Force-style uniform, which makes them think of themselves as responsible young leaders, LaFond noted. And they’re challenged to live up to CAP’s core values.

“I think our emphasis on character development impresses partners like the Vietnam Veterans of America,” LaFond said.

A point of emphasis for CAP is advocating for disadvantaged youth. CAP wants to make the cadet experience available to more young people, especially those from under-served communities.Scholarship programs with organizations like VVA Chapter 9 are important initiatives toward that goal, LaFond said.

“CAP is eager to partner with nonprofits, foundations and other benefactors,” LaFond said, “to help cadets go to college, pursue flight training, or participate in our life-changing cadet activities.”