Category Archives: Military Feature

Military Feature Brien Brockway: Military Background Great Training for Law School Success

WMU-Cooley, as a military friendly and designated Yellow Ribbon School, talks to its military students, faculty and graduates about their journey from the military to law school and about their career goals. This December, we feature WMU-Cooley law 1L student Brien Brockway, a U.S. Army Veteran. He was a Fire Team Leader with the infantry in Afghanistan. After careful consideration, he decided to change careers to allow more time with his family. That decision led him to law school at WMU-Cooley.

Military rank and title: U.S. Army Veteran, Fire Team Leader Specialist

Why did you decide to go to law school: I decided to go to law school for several reasons. First, for my personal knowledge. Second, for my family and the future of my children. Third, for those that I will serve in the future. At first, the idea of law seemed like a large and daunting task, but what I found was that my experience in the military, and the lessons I learned, really prepared me for what lay ahead in law school, like handling the stress and the workload. The professors have also been very good about setting students up for success. I am also working closely with the Academic and Career Services to start networking now to figure out my best fit and career path after law school.

Why did WMU-Cooley stand out for you: Although I like working in the military and service, I felt like there was something missing, so I did some research on law schools and WMU-Cooley made a lot of sense. They offered good scholarships and, most importantly, they offered part-time and evening classes, which was key since my wife and I work full-time and we have a family.

Career: My career took multiple turns. I have worked in lead abatement, education, and the military. Then after leaving the military, I pursued a degree in public administration knowing that I still wanted to be involved in some aspect of service. My present job is working with the Kalamazoo County Area Agency on Aging, working for veterans, and with veterans. After law school, my goal is to stay in southwest Michigan and practice business and civil law.

Tell us a little about you: I have lived in southwest Michigan since I was 11 years old. I completed my bachelors in history and theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville. I spent nearly 24 months in the Army National Guard and three years on Active Duty with 2-2 Infantry, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. After being discharged, I moved my family back to Kalamazoo, Michigan, then started law school at WMU-Cooley in May 2016.  My wife and I have been married seven years and we have three children.

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Military Feature Shawlonda Hallback: Simple Conversations Change Lives

WMU-Cooley, as a military friendly and designated Yellow Ribbon School, talks to its military students, faculty and graduates about their journey from the military to law school and about their career goals. We are thankful and grateful for the sacrifices our military service men and women make to keep us safe and preserve our freedoms. WMU-Cooley’s November monthly feature is WMU-Cooley Law School graduate Shawlonda Hallback. Shawlonda is a Retired U.S. Marine Corp Veteran.

Military rank and title: Retired U.S. Marine, U.S. Marine Corps

Why did you decide to go to law school and why did you choose WMU-Cooley: I knew I wanted to be an attorney since I was 16 years old. I remember taking a Mock Trial class in a high school English class and everything about it felt right. I loved what I was doing and it seemed to be my calling. My teacher thought so too. She told me that I would make a great lawyer – and I believed her. It was that moment that I decided that I was going to go to law school and be a lawyer. The only thing I didn’t know was when. After retiring from the U.S. Marine Corp, I felt I could follow that dream. I chose to attend WMU-Cooley as a second challenging career after retiring from the military because of its diversity and its flexibility for non-traditional students. WMU-Cooley made it possible for me to go to law school. And my family support made it a reality.


Career description: I truly enjoyed my career with the U.S. Marine Corps. It was important work when my leadership and judgment accounted for several millions of dollars and numerous people. My responsibilities included Explosive Ordnance disposal, deconstruction, deployment, disarmament, and distribution of high explosive munitions. I was built to be a Marine, and honored to defend our borders and those other countries who needed our protection. It was gratifying to know that I was doing my part to keep people safe. When I think about kids, for instance, unknowingly walking into a field that might have old or unsafe bombs or explosives hiding, and in the blink of an eye a life is changed forever, I know what I am doing is valuable to society.

Career goals: My goals are clear for me. I want every person, no matter their lot in life, to have the legal representation they deserve and are owed in our democratic society. I think it’s critical that everyday people understand their rights under our Constitution and they have a say in how they are treated. It’s important to me to be able to ease people’s fears in a tangible way when they need help and guidance. All folks should have equal access to our legal system. There are two things I want to do, now that I am out of law school and an attorney. I want to provide very low-cost legal service to those in need. Translated, I plan to give pro bono services at 50 percent of my rate to under-served markets through grants I will acquire. The second focus I have is to support local efforts to end human trafficking. My belief is when you change the climate of human trafficking at the local level, you will make important changes beyond our borders and globally. It was during an elective called Slavery & Human Trafficking taught by WMU-Cooley Professor Stevie Swanson where my eyes were opened to the horrors of human trafficking. It became a very real passion of injustice for me. To think, I didn’t even realize that this existed. Now I look at people differently, even in the grocery store, and wonder, are these women and children victims of human trafficking – and many are. Victims are everywhere, including in our community.

Tell us a little about you: I enjoy doing work I feel is important to more than just me and my family. In fact, I get much enjoyment just talking to people; hearing their stories and listening to their problems, and working together to figure out solutions. Problem-solving is at the core of what we should try to do as good attorneys.  But it’s not always about me trying to solve someone else’s problems. It’s these simple conversations that can change lives. People are all tied together as human beings. It is our ability to come together that makes us better people. My family has been an important part of my life and why I have been able to find success along the way. Chevelle (Hallback) has been an anchor for me and throughout law school. Our sons, Michael Mitchell (25), stepson Terrick Russell (24), Joshua Mitchell (23), Christian Mitchell (21), and Jordan Barnes (20), also a Marine, have been a great source of strength and pride.

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The costs of war

As of 2014, the Department of Veterans Affairs is still paying a Civil War pension. The last surviving child of a Union veteran still receives a small, monthly pension payment 149 years after the Civil War ended.[1]


In the final paragraph of President Lincoln’s second inaugural address, on  March 4, 1865, the president delivered his prescription for the nation’s recovery: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Irene Triplett’s pension, albeit small, stands as a reminder that the checks we wrote in wartime still must be honored long after the guns fall silent. The VA is also still paying benefits to 16 widows and children of veterans from the 1898 Spanish-American War. World War I ended a 100 years ago, and the last U.S. World War I veteran died in 2011. But 4,038 widows, sons and daughters get monthly VA pension or other payments. Our cost today, for that Great War of 100 years ago, our annual tab for surviving families comes to $16.5 million. Those payments don’t include the costs of fighting or caring for the veterans themselves. A Harvard University study last year projected the final bill for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars would hit $4 trillion to $6 trillion in the coming decades.

That is just money though. When we think of costs of war, the cost of national security, the phrase we use in the military is “blood and treasure[2].”

The “Butchers bill,” as the British used to say and General Milley recently revived the phrase. The reference then is to the so-called hidden costs of war. There are over 2.3 million American veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (compared to 2.6 million Vietnam veterans who fought in Vietnam); there are 8.2 million “Vietnam Era Veterans” (personnel who served anywhere during any time of the Vietnam War).

And at least 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have PTSD and/or Depression. (Military counselors I have interviewed state that, in their opinion, the percentage of veterans with PTSD is much higher; the number climbs higher when combined with TBI.) Other accepted studies have found a PTSD prevalence of 14%; see a complete review of PTSD prevalence studies, which quotes studies with findings ranging from 4 -17% of Iraq War veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. Some 50% of those with PTSD do not seek treatment — out of the half that do seek treatment, only half of those get “minimally adequate” treatment (RAND study). About 19% of veterans may have traumatic brain injury (TBI). Over 260,000 veterans from OIF and OEF so far have been diagnosed with TBI.

Seven percent of veterans have both post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. Rates of post-traumatic stress are greater for these wars than prior conflicts in times of peace. In any given year,  3.6% of the general population have PTSD (caused by natural disasters, car accidents, abuse, etc.). Recent statistical studies show that rates of veteran suicide are much higher than previously thought. PTSD distribution between services for OND, OIF, and OEF: Army 67% of cases, Air Force 9%, Navy 11%, and Marines 13%. (Congressional Research Service, Sept. 2010)

A recent sample of 600 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan found: 14% post-traumatic stress disorder; 39% alcohol abuse; 3% drug abuse. Major depression also a problem. “Mental and Physical Health Status and Alcohol and Drug Use Following Return From Deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan.” (Susan V. Eisen, PhD).

More active duty personnel died by their own hand than in combat in 2012 (New York Times).

These statistics are sobering and often ignored. We all know soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines, who through multiple deployments recently, or one lengthy deployment in previous conflicts or wars, either did not return or returned scarred, altered either mentally or physically: The Marine with PTSD, the soldier with a burned or missing face, or a prosthetic, or multiple missing limbs.

And yet in some ways I was most struck by the public’s reaction to the single sentinel standing guard during Hurricane Sandy back in 2012, standing watch at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during a hurricane. The photo quickly went viral. The nation reacting with respect, awe, inspired, by what to all of us, was simply, DUTY. The Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment, “The Old Guard” have guarded the Tomb for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year regardless of the weather, since 1948. The Sentinel’s Creed which in part says “Through the years of diligence and praise and the discomfort of the elements, I will walk my tour in humble reverence to the best of my ability.” “I will walk my tour in humble reverence to the best of my ability”That really captures the sense of Duty, not just Duty, but with 2 other conditions – to the utmost of our abilities And, second, with humility and respect. In short, how many times have you said, “Proud to serve” sometimes you said it ironically, even sarcastically, but mostly you meant it.

Not just as a cliché, but deep down in your heart and gut.And so we return, we return from the Argonne and Huertgen Forests. From Anbar and Helmand Provinces. From Aberdeen and Hood. We return to the state, to the  community that raised us and put its mark on us, far before the Army or Marines ever did. And we still retain the soul of a sentinel. The spirit of a servant. You who do not, would not,  think twice of standing your post in hurricanes or patrolling dusty streets in Baghdad, or on heaving decks in blizzards.In our Army Values, we uphold the ethos of “selfless service.”

“The basic building block of selfless service is the commitment of each team member to go a little further, endure a little longer, and look a little closer to see how he or she can add to the effort.” (Army Values) “Public service” — I was raised that there was no higher calling than public service. Members of my family have fought in almost all of this country’s wars since the very first one. And, I am equally proud that they have served as educators, as teachers, and as religious leaders, for that same length of time, since our country was founded.

But, today, the term “public servant” is often equated with politician or bureaucrat. It has taken on a somewhat or somehow unsavory connotation, probably because too often politicians or bureaucrats have hidden behind the label of public servant. So think of yourself as a community servant. Or simply as a servant.  You have returned with that same spirit. Or, to return to my theme, as a servant-sentinel. Because while I am here today to publicly thank you for your service, to remind you that there is a grateful nation, and to remind that nation that they need to be ever grateful and more grateful. I am also here for a larger theme. Veterans, your country still needs you. They need you precisely because you have the soul of a sentinel, and the spirit of a servant.And, you must be a servant.

[1] Each month, Irene Triplett collects $73.13 from the Department of Veterans Affairs, a pension payment for her father’s military service — in the Civil War.More than 3 million men fought and 530,000 men died in the conflict between North and South. Pvt. Mose Triplett joined the rebels, deserted on the road to Gettysburg, defected to the Union and married so late in life to a woman so young (50 years younger than him) that their daughter Irene is today 86 years old — and the last child of any Civil War veteran still on the VA benefits rolls.

[2] Jonathan Swift, who was so fond of this phrase that he used it twice in a single sentence in this passage from his pamphlet The Publick Spirit of the Whigs, written in 1712:

“I cannot sufficiently commend our Ancestors for transmitting to us the Blessing of Liberty; yet having laid out their Blood and Treasure upon the Purchase, I do not see how they acted parsimoniously; because I can conceive nothing more generous than that of employing our Blood and Treasure for the Service of Others.”

mcdaniel21Blog author Brig. Gen. Michael C.H.  McDaniel, USA (ret.) is a professor and the director of WMU-Cooley’s Homeland and National Security Law Program. He served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense Strategy. His responsibilities included supervision of the Department of Defense Critical Infrastructure Protection Program and the Global Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection Policy.

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Military Feature Gary Bauer: Air Force Navigator-Bombardier Flying High in Legal Profession

WMU-Cooley, as a military friendly and designated Yellow Ribbon School, talks to its military students, faculty and graduates about their journey from the military to law school and about their career goals. October’s monthly feature is WMU-Cooley Law School Professor Gary Bauer. Professor Bauer was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and a Navigator-Bombardier on B-52 and KC 135 aircraft.

Military rank and title: Captain, U.S. Air Force, Navigator-Bombardier on B-52 and KC 135 aircraft

Decision to go to law school and why you choose WMU-Cooley: My decision was based upon a return on my investment. I was 38 when I attended law school for the first time. A person can practice law without limitations in spite of physical limitations as long the brain functions. So I figured the length of my career projected well into my 70s, if I chose to work that long. Also, the flexibility of a law degree gave me options geographically, subject matter choices, business settings, and whether I worked for someone else or independently. It was the return on my investment that drove my decision.

Professor Gary Bauer was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and Navigator-Bombardier. He proudly displays a photo in his office of the B-52 and KC 135 aircraft he flew during service.

Professor Gary Bauer was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and Navigator-Bombardier. He proudly displays a photo in his office of the B-52 and KC 135 aircraft he flew during service.

Military background: I spent six years in the Air Force after graduating from Purdue University. After my enlistment period was over, I went to work for a Japanese company as a Regional Sales Manager and covered up to five states. I did that for six years until the company pulled their operations out of the United States. It was then that I need to decide what to do for the rest of my life  –  law was it! No contest. This past summer I did a blog story I called Typhoon June and I got Personal. The story talks about about the time I flew right through a Typhoon, as ordered to do so, during the time of the Vietnam War. The story not only talks about the risks inherent with that task, but how, when you experience proximity to death, it changes you and makes it possible to better appreciate the life you have and what is really important in your life.

Future goals and why veterans make great lawyers: As a full-time professor of law, I love working with students who are hungry for knowledge and guidance, so I want to keep doing what I love to do — why would I want to do anything else? As far as why veterans make great lawyers, both military and a legal careers are perfect training in leadership. Plus, those with a military background know how to follow the chain of command, which is similar to the law and process. Individuals with a military background also know how to handle a competitive, adversarial system. You are trained to deal with the stress of combat and are able to make quick and accurate decisions – difficult decisions under stressful situations. I also feel that the military is a diverse and accepting culture, as is the law. There is a maturity about those in the military, along with their families. They know about responsibility, along with good time management skills and discipline. I also feel as though those with a military background have settled down – they have seen other cultures, experienced command subordination and the stresses of battle. Some would say they have hardened and are willing to follow instructions. It has been my experience that many of my very best students are former military members. Military students can also take advantage of the GI Bill – keeping debt load down or nearly zero at WMU-Cooley, especially if you attend part-time and remain working and take advantage of scholarships. Again, I truly feel that a legal career is one of the greatest and most versatile careers, in terms of location, subject matter and diversity of client base, and is one of the longest productive life career opportunities.

Tell us a little about you: Recently recognized by the American Bar Association with the Solo And Small Firm Trainer Award, also recognized this year by the Solo Section of the State Bar and will soon be awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award for the work I do helping students find their path to success. I come from Fort Wayne, Indiana and I am one of 12 children raised to be independent and productive members of society. I have a blog, which I highly recommend. Read “Is Your Client a 20 Footer?” or “Avoid the Dog in a Basket” which are just two of well over 100 posts. And for military vets, read my post concerning Typhoon June and how I had to fly right through it.

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Military and Legal Career Brings Promotion to WMU-Cooley Graduate Col. John Wojcik

John Wojcik has served his country well. Not only serving as the General Counsel for the Michigan National Guard, which is a joint military organization that has over 11,000 military and civilian employees, three air bases, and two Army posts, and over 50 military facilities, he serves and oversees all state, federal, and administrative litigation for the Guard, with authority over $500 million of federal contracting projects each year.


Wojcik is also a nationally recognized Fiscal Law instructor and specializes in federal construction litigation, teaching in the areas of  federal contracting, federal employment law, environmental law, real estate leasing and procurement, federal administrative law, and military justice. He supervises a combination of 25 full-time and part-time attorneys and paralegals.

His outstanding service was recognized this summer in a promotion to Colonel. He received his new rank from his wife Kimberlie in a ceremony at Joint Forces Headquarters in Lansing, Michigan.

He has served as the general counsel for the Michigan National Guard since April 2002 and was appointed to his current position in May 2016.

A native of Edensburg, Pennsylvania, Wojcik graduated cum laude from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania and was commissioned in 1993 into the Army Reserves as a distinguished military graduate from IUP’s ROTC program. He holds a J.D. from WMU-Cooley Law School. During Wojcik’s 26-year career, he has served in a variety of assignments including infantry mortar man, trial counsel, trial defense counsel, command judge advocate, and assistant state staff judge advocate.

In 2010, he deployed to Afghanistan and served as chief lawyer for a theater detention facility. In his current assignment, he is an adviser to the director of Military and Veterans Affairs, providing strategic legal coverage for approximately 11,000 members of the Michigan Army and Air National Guard.

Wojcik is extremely active in teaching military law to lawyers and was instrumental in creating the Ingham County Veterans Court and the Military and Veterans Section of the State Bar of Michigan. In May 2016, he published a guide to assist lawyers in handling family matters that involve service members. He has taught numerous courses at WMU-Cooley Law School.

Wojcik’s military awards and decorations include the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Achievement Medal, and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal.


Parts of this article are reprinted by permission of the Detroit Legal News Publishing LLC, and was previously published in the Ingham County Legal News on Aug. 22, 2016. 

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Day of Remembrance: 9/11 Day-Long Scout Salute to First Responders

“Everyone remembers where we were on that day and yet when you hear the phrase 9/11, you don’t think of anything other than the events from 15 years ago. We say 9/11 and everyone knows what we feel and what occurred, it was a visceral deep pain.” – Ret. Brig. General and WMU-Cooley Dean Michael C.H. McDaniel

The Gerald R. Ford Council of the Boy Scouts of America and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation and Museum come together each year on September 11 to honor those who sacrificed their lives during the terrorist events of September 11, 2001, by hosting a Community Day of Remembrance and day-long Scout Salute. 

Western Michigan University Cooley Law School Associate Dean and retired Brigadier General Michael C.H. McDaniel, an Eagle Scout himself, was the keynote speaker at this year’s ceremony. He joined scouts and their families, fire, police, EMS, and military personnel, as they saluted the flag being flown at the museum.

“These men along with the men and women who serve our country, whether in the service, police department, or fire department, they are our nation’s heroes,” said McDaniel. We should not be confused with entertainers and sports figures who consume much of the time during national newscasts. At most they could be considered role models, not heroes,” stated General McDaniel.

He continued by talking about the definition of a hero. A hero like Father Mychal Judge, a Franciscan friar who served as a chaplain to the New York City Fire Department, and was a priest from McDaniel’s alma mater St. Bonaventure University.

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Mychal Judge was the first casualty on 9/11, serving in the capacity as chaplain to the New York City Fire Department. Although Father Judge was “a very small-framed, quiet, soft-spoken man,” stated McDaniel, “he was a man with the hugest heart of any man I have ever met.”

Brig. Gen. Michael C.H. McDaniel, USA (ret.)

Brig. Gen. Michael C.H. McDaniel, USA (ret.)

Brig. Gen. Michael C.H.  McDaniel, USA (ret.) is a professor and the director of WMU-Cooley’s Homeland and National Security Law Program. He served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense Strategy. His responsibilities included supervision of the Department of Defense Critical Infrastructure Protection Program and the Global Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection Policy.

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Military Feature John O’Neill: Sees bright 2nd career in the law after serving country for 28 years

WMU-Cooley, as a military friendly and designated Yellow Ribbon School, talks to its military students, faculty and graduates about their journey from the military to law school and about their career goals. This month, we feature WMU-Cooley law student John O’Neill who retired from the U.S. Army at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel after 28 years of active service.

Military rank and title: Ret. U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel

Why law school and WMU-Cooley: As my retirement drew near, the natural progression for many of my peers was to go into government service or to serve as a civilian military contractor. Yet those options did not appeal to me. Law school did. My biggest concern, though, was time. I knew that I didn’t want to spend three years attending school after I retired. Fortunately I was stationed in Michigan when I heard about WMU-Cooley Law School’s flexible scheduling options and generous scholarships. I was able to start taking classes part-time while I was still on active duty, which allowed me to complete half of my courses before I retired. Now that I have less than a year to go before I graduate from law school, I am looking forward to launching a new second career as a public defender.

Career description:  While serving in Alabama in the ’90s, I completed a bachelor of science degree in Justice Studies from  Athens State College, along with a master of science degree in Management from Troy State University.  I received my commission as an Army Aviator from Alabama A&M University where I was cross-enrolled in their ROTC program. Over the decades, I have served throughout the world, including Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Germany. My military career consisted of: 4 years (1984-1988) as an enlisted infantryman with the second Ranger Battalion in Ft. Lewis, Washington, and 24 years (1991-2015) as a commissioned officer. During the years in between (1988-1991), I also served as a police officer in Huntsville, Alabama.


Career responsibilities: I have served at every level of management in the U.S. Army, most recently as the Network Integration Lead for the Program Executive Office , Ground Combat Systems, until my retirement. I was responsible for the integration and commonality of all networked systems among the Army’s ground combat fleets, plus the coordination of all staff actions within a PEO that manages the entire Abrams Main Battle Tank fleet, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle fleet, and numerous other ground combat systems.

Decorations: Legion of Merit,  Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal (2), Meritorious Service Medal (5),  Joint Service Commendation Medal (2) , Army Commendation Medal (3), and  Army Achievement Medal (4)

Skill Qualifications: Senior Army Aviator Wings, Ranger Tab, Parachutist Wings, Expert Infantryman Badge, Air Assault Wings, Jungle Expert Badge


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