GRCC hosts combat boot exhibit by Volunteers of America Michigan



Leah Nixon

Director of Communications


Aug. 27, 2013 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids Community College is proud to host a display of combat boots that women veterans have decorated to share their stories of military service.

Last spring, Volunteers of America Michigan asked women veterans — who make up 8 percent of the veteran population — to use craft supplies to turn combat boots into artwork that illustrates their service. The resulting exhibit, “Her Boots: Step Up for the Stand Down,” is traveling around the state to raise awareness of the unique issues that female veterans face.

The exhibit — about 20 pairs of boots — can be viewed inside a tent on the south end of GRCC’s Bostwick Commons area from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 5. The boots will also be part of an ArtPrize collaboration with photographer Jean Orians that will be displayed at Westminster Presbyterian Church.

“For many female veterans, participating in the project is an achievement in itself," said Army veteran Heather Nystrom, senior manager of social services for Volunteers of America Michigan. "It’s an opportunity for them to take pride in being a female veteran.

“Many women, for a variety of reasons, don’t identify themselves as veterans, and this is a way to do so.”

GRCC will provide information on the services and resources that it offers to veterans.

“This is a unique opportunity for all of us to learn about their experiences in the military and for them to learn about the benefits of attending GRCC," said Janice Holton, GRCC’s veterans benefits coordinator.

GRCC offers veteran students information and guidance through key college processes such as admissions and administration of their educational benefits. The college, which serves more than 300 veteran students, has been on G.I. Jobs’ list of Military Friendly Institutions since 2009.

Grand Rapids Community College, established in 1914, offers opportunities for more than 30,000 students annually in degree courses, certification and training programs, workshops and personal enrichment classes. GRCC holds classes on the downtown Grand Rapids campus as well as several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.