REBOOT graduation at Piquette Square for Veterans

February 18th, 2015
Ken Barrett, Chief Diversity Officer at General Motors, delivers the keynote address at the REBOOT graduation at Piquette Square for Veterans

The veterans speaking at the recent REBOOT graduation event at Piquette Square for Veterans were emotional, appreciative and determined.

“REBOOT was a remarkable experience,” said Rickey Wright, who served eight years in the Air Force and was homeless before residing at Piquette Square. “REBOOT reawakened my sense of pride in myself, my service and my brothers and sisters who have also served in the military. I now want to focus my energies on the goals I’ve set for myself.”

The REBOOT workshop is specially designed to help veterans prepare for civilian life after their service. The workshop is three weeks of education that builds upon the training and experience of the veterans. It “reboots” their skills and self-efficacy. It encourages them to set goals that draw upon their talents and strengths, and to chart strategies to achieve those goals in employment, self-improvement, helping others, and their personal lives.

“Graduates, you’ve faced challenges that few know or understand, but, as this program has shown, you’ve weathered the storms,” said Ken Barrett, keynote speaker at the graduation. Ken is Chief Diversity Officer at General Motors and served in the Navy for 28 years.

“You’ve grown and learned in these past weeks,” Ken continued. “You’ve been asked to leave some things behind while reaching for new opportunities and a new awareness of your unique gifts and abilities. That commands respect.”

The REBOOT program at Piquette Square was sponsored by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA). Jeff Barnes, director of the MVAA, also spoke at the event. “This day is just as important as the day you graduated from basic training,” Jeff told the veterans who completed the workshop.

REBOOT was developed by the National Veterans Transition Services, Inc. (NVTSI), which is based in San Diego. Maurice Wilson, President and National Executive Director of NTVSI, led the workshop at Piquette Square and handed out the diplomas at the graduation. Staff from MVAA and from Southwest Solutions’ HVRP (Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program) also conducted sessions at the workshop to help the veterans better their economic situation. The Grosse Point War Memorial provided a healthy lunch everyday prepared by chef Angelo Loria.

The REBOOT graduation took place on Friday, February 13. Of the 16 graduates, 14 are current Piquette Square residents. One is a former resident, and the other recently left the service.

Marcus Cobb, a Piquette Square resident who completed the workshop, emceed the graduation event.

“I had nothing before I came to Piquette Square,” Marcus said. “But I got all the support I could hope for here, and I have come a long way. I and my fellow graduates today want to start a REBOOT chapter in Detroit. We think that all veterans could benefit from this program.”

Many of the graduates in their remarks thanked Piquette Square and its support staff for transitioning them from their former lives of homelessness to a sense of hopefulness. “Piquette literally saved my life and I don’t know where I would be if not for this place,” said Jeffrey Letman.

“I believe Piquette Square has set a standard for all those who serve veterans,” said Ken Barrett in his keynote remarks. “I regard it as a model for helping veterans recover from homelessness and unemployment. I believe Piquette Square restores lives.”

Support staff at Piquette Square proudly cheered on the graduates at the event. “I am so completely touched by the transformation I see in the veterans we serve,” said Lisa Todd, Residential Service Coordinator at Piquette Square.

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