Campaign to aid military families

The following story appeared in the September 8, 2006, editions of The News-Herald Newspapers.

By Anne Sullivan, The News-Herald

TAYLOR — Herman Ramik knows what it was like to have a parent in the military and away from home.

"My dad was a career soldier," he said. "I know what it is like when your dad has to go off, dad's gone and the money is shot."

Now, Ramik, a city councilman and retired Taylor police officer, is taking steps to help ease the burden on military families from the 177th Military Police Brigade unit at the Taylor National Guard.

Ramik is using his resources with the city and as an entrepreneur and is teaming with the National Guard to establish a fund to help those families meet unexpected expenses when a family member is activated. To raise money for the fund, Ramik is selling T-shirts through Ramik Enterprises, a company he operates. Proceeds will go to a special fund, being established for the 177th National Guard unit.

The shirts, which sell for $15, debuted during Cruzin Telegraph and also were sold at the Woodard Dream Cruise.

Ramik will have a rummage sale of the shirts Sept. 16 at Hallmark Realty, 20155 Goddard Road.

The 177th Brigade has 2,300 soldiers all over Michigan, Ramik said. It was deployed in Desert Storm, Desert Shield, Panama and quite heavily since Sept. 11, 2001.

He is hoping money in the fund will be used to ease the worry of activated guard members, if an unexpected expense arises at home.

"In this day and age when you can send an e-mail and have it in a matter of seconds, I don't want a GI to hear from his wife that it's subzero temperatures at home, the furnace went out and there's no money to pay (to repair it)," Ramik said. "And now the guy has to go out on patrol. I want the GI to know if that happens, he can know his family is taken care of and he can go out on patrol and focus on his job."

Ramik is working with Charley Johnson, a city plumber, trying to get business owners together so if an unexpected home repair need arises, such as a leak in the roof, an electrical problem, or the water heater goes out, someone will step up and fix it for the family, he said.

"They won't charge for labor," Ramik said. "The (family) would only have to pay for parts."

Hopefully, the money to pay for the parts will be in the fund, he said.

"Some businessmen will take it upon themselves and do it (for free in situations with military families)," he said.

The military is all volunteer, Ramik said.

"Having a family member deployed can be a burden financially," he said. "Not all companies can afford to make up the difference in pay and benefits for activated employees."

The National Guard unit holds fund-raisers, but Ramik said he believes it is the least he can do for the men and women who have volunteered for service to the country.

Oakwood Heritage Hospital also is working with Ramik and the National Guard to help members of the military police unit based in Taylor meet their health care needs, said Kathy Taylor, manager of case utilization management.

The National Guard provides health care to its members and families, she said. But if questions arise about coverage, or where to go for help, they can direct the families.

All the money donated will go specifically to the 177th Military Police Brigade in Taylor, Ramik said.

For more information, call him at 1-734-341-1817.