A day to remember: September outing aimed at raising funds for troops

By Tom Kirvan
Legal News
One served as a captain in the Marines while the other was of the same rank in the U.S. Army, a fact that has sparked a good-natured rivalry between the two members of the Veterans Committee for the Oakland County Bar Association.
“There is a lot of banter going back and forth,” said Mike Schloff, the Marine vet who enjoys poking fun at his Vietnam era Army counterpart, Jim Zellen, an 11-year veteran of the military. “I’m proud of my Marine service, as I know Jim is of his Army work, but I still feel the urge to let him know which branch deserves top billing.”

The two, however, are united in their support of the Veterans Committee’s third annual golf outing, scheduled this year for Patriot Day — Sept. 11. 
And for good reason.

The beneficiary of this year’s event, which will take place at The Links of Crystal Lake in Pontiac beginning at 9 a.m. on Sept. 11 is an organization dedicated to the daily needs of American troops in military hot spots around the world.

Proceeds from the outing will be earmarked for Americans Thank Our Troops (ATOT), a nonprofit enterprise that provides non-perishable items to U.S. service personnel abroad.

“Our goal is to raise upward of $8,000 at the outing, money that can be used to fund the purchase of products for our servicemen and women overseas,” said Zellen, chair of the golf outing. “We are counting on outing participants and our sponsors to reach that goal, and we hope that we can attract 80 golfers or more to help make it happen.”

Schloff, a past president of the OCBA, is more than willing to salute Zellen’s leadership efforts on behalf of the outing and its greater cause at heart.

“I’m just one of the worker bees and I’m grateful that Jim stepped up several years ago to help get the outing off the ground,” said Schloff. “He’s had experience in organizing charity outings of this type and we needed another vehicle to raise funds for ATOT.”

The cost of participating in this year’s event is $100 per player, a price that includes lunch, 18 holes of golf, and an awards dinner. Businesses or individuals can sponsor a hole for $100 as well, money that will be well spent by ATOT, according to Zellen, who can be contacted at (248) 835-9448.

“In May, we sent 141 boxes of non-perishables to our troops overseas,” Zellen said. “The need for these types of goods is great and the thanks we get from our troops makes all the work worthwhile.”

Several years ago, Zellen was “profoundly touched” by the Veterans Committee’s work in a related way.

“Part of our mission is to provide pro bono legal services to vets who have experienced troubles in adjusting to life back in the civilian world,” Zellen said. “We get involved in a variety of ways, handling legal work in civil and criminal cases.”

In one such case, Zellen was asked to represent a veteran of the Desert Storm conflict who was facing various legal hurdles after being arrested for driving on a suspended license.

“He suffered from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and had lost his job, his family, etcetera,” Zellen related. “He needed a helping hand and, fortunately, we appeared before a judge who displayed the kind of compassion that offered him a chance to redeem himself.”

Given that second chance, the vet “made the most of it,” said Zellen, landing a job at General Motors that has provided the proverbial new lease on life.

“He said that I helped change his life,” Zellen said of the grateful vet. “By my way of thinking, it was a case of the teacher learning from the student. He, in every sense, changed my life for the better.”