Negaunee man honored as UP Veteran of the Year

Bernie Stanaway Jr., the current commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3165 in Negaunee, has been named 2019’s Upper Peninsula Veteran of the Year, and we believe there are few candidates more worthy of this recognition than him.

When Stanaway joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1992, he planned to make military service his career until an injury made it impossible. At that point, helping others who served became his mission — one he has strived to fulfill for the past two decades.

Stanaway served in Korea; Okinawa, Japan; and New River, North Carolina, as a truck driver and then a fueler from 1992 to 1996.

“I went in open contract because I wanted to serve. I loved the camaraderie and the brotherhood,” Stanaway said. “And that’s where I learned the follow-through and the tenacity to take on a job and keep it going until you complete it.”

The help Stanaway provided to other veterans began right away. The number of veterans he helped annually started small, but grew as time went on.

“I started right as I got out of the military because of what I went through, the preconceived notions,” Stanaway said. “I may have helped two people in 1997, in ’99 maybe I helped eight or 10, but the numbers just grew over time. I have stopped counting. It’s not about that, it’s about helping people.”

Stanaway’s volunteerism is well known in the veterans’ community, according to a release from the U.P. Veteran Selection Committee. In addition to being the commander of VFW Post 3165, he was the American Legion Post 44 past historian and past service officer, and he was elected commander for the AMVETS Post 122 and Post 125 for 12 years. He is also a member of the Disabled American Veterans and Paralyzed Veterans of America groups.

In the past year, he has assisted veterans with service claims and medical bills, transported veterans to facilities in Marquette and Iron Mountain for medical appointments, assisted in AMVETS Post 122 picnics for hospitalized veterans and has participated in veterans’ funerals.

Stanaway is also active in several civic organizations, and has assisted with projects for the Masons, the Boy Scouts as assistant scoutmaster for Troop 372, merit badge counselor, unit commissioner and charter organization representative, the release states.

“This is quite an honor, but it’s not why I do what I do,” he said. “It was kind of hard sitting down for recognition. I volunteer because I see a need that needs to be filled.”

Stanaway is scheduled to receive his award during the U.P. State Fair in Escanaba on Thursday, which is Veterans Day at the fair.

If you are able to attend, then please make the trip to show some support for a man who has dedicated his life to supporting others.

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