Veteran services

Michigan Veteran of the Year

Michigan Veteran of the Year – Art Fishman, 95, always on the move on behalf of his beloved veterans.

JWV’s Art Fishman adds another accolade for his work with veterans.

Jewish World War II veteran (JWV) Art Fishman, 95, never tires of volunteering his time and energy to support his fellow veterans, both inside and outside the Jewish community. And I never tire of writing about my dear friend – at least a dozen times in the JN, if you keep track, twice as a cover boy.

Art is a member of JWV Shapiro-Rose Post 510. He is their former commanding officer and is the Senior Vice Commander Emeritus of JWV Dept. of Michigan, and now you can officially call him the “Michigan Veteran of the Year”.

Alan Muskovitz
Alan Muskovitz

The prestigious award was presented to Art by the Commanders Group of Michigan (CGM). The group is made up of 14 congressional chartered veterans organizations in the state whose mission is to advocate for the well-being of veterans and their families. The honor is given to the person who contributed the most to this call.

According to the Commanders Group Selection Committee, while credit is given for a veteran’s service in past years, greater credit is given for accomplishments in the most recent year. And in 2022, 95-year-old Art Fishman, a JWV member for 55 years, has been as busy as ever working on behalf of his beloved comrades.

The “Michigan Veteran of the Year” honor was presented to Art on Sunday, September 18 during a special ceremony at the Zekelman Holocaust Center. There was a large gathering of JWV Station members and JWV Department leaders from Michigan, with newly elected Department Commander Mark Weiss and Station 135 Commander Donald Schenk offering congratulatory remarks.

Art Fishman and Phil Smith (centre) joined by JWV (LR) officers Don Schenk, Mark Weiss, Bill Glogower and Larry Berry
Art Fishman and Phil Smith (centre) joined by JWV (LR) officers Don Schenk, Mark Weiss, Bill Glogower and Larry Berry

Art’s greatest joy was being able to be surrounded by his loving children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and friends to witness the festivities. That’s the sentiment he shared with WDIV Local 4 News reporter Kim DeGiulio, who was on hand to cover the event. (Search for “Art Fishman Veteran of the Year” on WDIV’s YouTube channel.)

The Michigan JWV Department nominated Art for the award with the CGM Selection Committee deliberating on several nominees using a 10-point scoring system in each of 10 categories of achievement.

The chairman of the committee, Master Sergeant Phil Smith, USMC, retired, himself a former winner of Michigan’s Veteran of the Year award, presented Art with the official statement. Smith served in Vietnam and is also a veteran of the Desert Storm era.

Reflecting on the legacy of the art, Smith said, “I think everyone on the select committee had the same opinion about the art. He is a 95-year-old veteran who does everything possible to help veterans and their families. Wherever his heart is, that’s what he sets out to do. He has more energy than 50 or even 40 year old guys. He just continues.

Support from everywhere

Many letters of support have been received by CGM ahead of their vote for the award, including from Kate Melcher, executive director of Fisher House of Michigan.
The Fisher House Foundation builds comfortable homes where military and veteran families can stay for free while their loved ones are hospitalized at nearby VA medical centers. A residence is currently open in Ann Arbor and news is forthcoming on a Detroit location.
“Art is the greatest ambassador of the veteran community and it’s a state treasure,” Melcher said. “His schedule would exhaust those of us who are half his age.”

Art Fishman donates brick to Michigan WWII Legacy Memorial
Art Fishman donates brick to Michigan WWII Legacy Memorial

This timeline has included her participation as a storyteller in Fisher House’s annual “Stories of Service” program.

In his support of Art’s appointment, JWV Michigan Department Senior Vice Commander Bill Glogower wrote that his rapid rise through the ranks of the JWV “was entirely due to Art’s mentorship and leadership”.

Former department commander Ed Hirsch added, “It is a fitting honor for this man who selflessly served all veterans, regardless of race, creed, ethnicity or military service. “

Most of my phone conversations with Art Fishman begin like this: “Muskovitz,” he says somewhat hastily in his distinctive gritty tone, “let me call you later buddy,” as he informs me that he is at the door. any number of veterans, community, or temple functions or meetings.

Still busy

Art coordinates and appears with the JWV Honor Guard at the funerals of Jewish comrades. Due to restricted attendance during COVID, Art has at times served as the sole JWV representative, tasked with delivering the traditional folded American flag to the spouse or family member of the deceased.

Art also organizes Memorial Day ceremonies at the Machpelah and Hebrew Memorial cemeteries, which includes helping to ensure the graves of Jewish veterans are marked with an American flag during the holidays. He even enlisted the help of young people from the Jewish community who volunteered to clean the graves and headstones of veterans.

For years, Art has led the JWV’s annual Christmas Day bus trip to the Battle Creek VA Medical Center, where members present gifts and play bingo with veterans who can’t be home for the holidays.

Art Fishman with Rabbi Michael Moskowitz of Temple Shir Shalom and Phil Smith, Commanders Group.
Art Fishman with Rabbi Michael Moskowitz of Temple Shir Shalom and Phil Smith, Commanders Group.

For the past 10 years, Art has generously donated his time on behalf of the Michigan WWII Legacy Memorial. The tribute honors Michigan servicemen who fought on the war front and those who supported the war effort on the home front, like Rosie the Riveter. In 2017, Art received the organization’s Victory Award at its annual gala.
On April 7, Art played a vital role in planning and executing the Memorial Groundbreaking Ceremony at Royal Oak’s Memorial Park.

“He was on the committee for the event and contributed in a number of ways,” memorial chairman John Maten said in his endorsement letter to Commanders Group, “which included publicity, raising sponsors, securing the donation of sound equipment, as well as our WWII soundboard.” The event received worldwide media coverage.

On Flag Day, June 14, Art made his annual hike with his fellow post members to the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Howell to participate in their annual flag burning ceremony. The event provides an opportunity to respectfully dispose of aging or tattered flags as prescribed by the US Flag Code.

Without fail, during the 4th of July holiday weekend, you’re sure to find Art facilitating the JWV’s participation in community parades throughout the Detroit metro area — this year, marching in Oak Park.

And what can only be a fitting conclusion to a busy year for the greatest cheerleader in our veteran community, the Metro Detroit Veterans Coalition, sponsor of Detroit’s annual Veterans Day Parade. , appointed Art Fishman, one of his own board members, as Grand Marshal.

Proud heritage of service

When he’s not helping veterans, Art helps me. I have been privileged to feature many stories about our Michigan JWV in the pages of the JN, but I would not have been able to capture the full breadth of these stories without the help of JWV’s Public Relations Manager and Official Photographer , you guessed it, Fishman Art. Art, in turn, regularly ensures these stories are submitted and covered by The Jewish Veteran, the quarterly journal published by the Washington, D.C.-based National JWV.

Art served in both the Army Air Corp and the Navy. Included in his tour of duty during World War II, Firefighter First Class Arthur Fishman participated in the Yangtze River Patrol mine clearance mission in the Port of Shanghai aboard the destroyer USS Robinson. He was awarded the Bronze Star for his efforts.

From his role in World War II, Art diverts all attention to himself; instead, it honors those who paid the ultimate price. As he told the hundreds of people in attendance at the Michigan WWII Legacy Memorial dedication in April: “Remember the heroes who are not there. They are the ones to whom we dedicate this day.

The fact is, Art served his country well in World War II, but he dedicated more than 50 years to serving his fellow veterans. As I told Channel 4 reporter Kim DeGiulio: “Art just wants to do the common good for as many veterans as possible, that’s the difference. It never stops. For his efforts, people affectionately refer to Art as the “energizing bunny.”

Between his current missions on behalf of veterans, you will find Art organizing a number of events at the Shir Shalom Temple, including his duties as an ongoing usher during major holidays.

The temple celebrated art on March 4, 2017, its 90th anniversary, at an event aptly titled “Artful Living,” which I wrote about in February 23, 2017, JN. At the time, Rabbi Michael Moskowitz described the art as “part of the fabric of the Shir Shalom Temple. He is the first to offer his support, is tireless in his commitment and boundless in his energy.

I’ve seen Art receive many well-deserved honors over the years, but from my perspective, this Michigan Veteran of the Year honor seems to hold a special place in his heart.

“I’m overwhelmed,” Art said. “Honestly, I cannot adequately describe the gratitude I have for my fellow Jewish veterans who nominated me for this incredible honor. I work hard on everything I do, but I never do it alone. My fellow JWV members and all the veterans organizations with which I have been associated, we stand side by side, one and all, working for the betterment of those who have served our nation. In the process, I have been blessed with years of endearing friendships and unparalleled camaraderie.

Congratulations Art! Your being honored as “Michigan Veteran of the Year” sheds further light on the JWV, which since 1896 has been bound by its motto to be “a Jewish voice for veterans, a voice of veteran for the Jews”.