TRAVERSE CITY — People around the country paused to honor the nation’s veterans Monday. A local group sought to help them.

The leaders of Veterans in Crisis began that effort last summer with a golf scramble. David Mikowski, a U.S. Marine veteran and chairman for Veterans in Crisis, donated $10,000 raised during the golfing fundraiser to Northwestern Michigan College, with the funds earmarked for student veterans in need.

He made the presentation during NMC’s Veteran’s Day commemoration Monday where veterans and community members gathered for a breakfast, walk of honor, flag ceremony and other events. The money will help veterans deal with unexpected times of trouble.

“God forbid something happen to them during a semester, I wouldn’t want to see them leave school,” Mikowski said. “This $10,000 is going to be used to help any veteran specifically for any crisis they might run into.”

Scott Herzberg, with the college’s military and veterans affairs department, said 293 veterans make up 5 to 6 percent of NMC’s student population. That number increases to about 9 percent when accounting for spouses, active duty military members and others, he said.

A board of directors will review veterans’ requests for help, Herzberg said. He anticipates helping student veterans dealing with different types of problems. Herzberg used a veteran who approached him last year as an example.

It was the middle of winter and the student veteran found he needed to buy propane to heat his home before his basic housing allowance would come in. Herzberg loaned the money to the student, who paid it back later. The $10,000 award will help address issues like that, he said.

“We will take it case by case and make sure we are doing our part to support our veterans,” he said. “Inevitably, life is going to happen.”

Ultimately, the goal is to help veterans deal with crises without losing focus on their college education goals, Herzberg said.

Mikowski used the GI Bill — which provides educational assistance to military members, veterans, and their dependents — to put himself through school at NMC, graduating in 1969. He knows the struggles today’s veterans have covering college costs, even with the financial assistance.

“Simply put, they have almost 300 student veterans and contrary to popular belief, the GI bill doesn’t cover all of a student veteran’s expenses,” Mikowski said.

Veterans in Crisis plans to host the Golfing for Vets scramble every Flag Day to continue raising money for NMC’s veterans.

Staff writer