Chesapeake Veteran, Business Owner, Starts Nonprofit to Help Other Veterans and Their Families – The Virginian-Pilot
SUFFOLK — For years, Mike Ihrig was one of many volunteers who place 13,000 living evergreen wreaths on veterans’ graves during the holidays at the Albert G. Horton Jr. Veterans’ Cemetery.
As acting vice-president of the Horton Wreath Society, Ihrig learned that only 10% of the approximately 1,500 veterans buried each year at Suffolk Cemetery receive their full military funeral honors. Ihrig, CEO of Chesapeake-based MI Technical Solutions, plans to change that.
“It’s really not fair for veterans to be buried because they don’t get the honors they deserve,” he said. “So, we said, let’s step in, step in and see what we can do.”
A retired Navy Chief Warrant Officer 4, Ihrig said he hopes someone will one day do it for him. It’s been over two decades since he retired and 18 years since he started his business on his dining table. The company, which provides IT support to the Navy, now has 100 employees worldwide and 62% of them are veterans.
In April, he launched the non-profit organization MITS-GIVES Inc. to honor and support veterans, their families, and the Hampton Roads community through fundraising and volunteerism.
The nonprofit organization is currently accepting donations to support the Alzheimer’s Association, America’s VetDogs, Equi-Vets, and GET Empowered CDC and is committed to increasing each donation by adding 10%.
The organization is on the right track with its first project: the creation and establishment of an honor guard corps at the cemetery. MITS-GIVES has partnered with the Virginia Department of Veterans Services, the entity that operates the cemetery.
Ihrig assures – once the body is fully established – the family of every veteran requesting full military funeral honors will receive them. This includes the folding and presentation of the American funeral flag, tap dancing, and a ceremonial three-shot rifle volley, commonly referred to as the 21-gun salute.
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Ihrig must recruit about 200 volunteers – retirees and veterans – to serve in the honor guard.
“It takes a team to do that, and then obviously they all have to be trained and practice to look sharp,” he said.
Donations poured in for the construction of a 16ft by 36ft support facility at the cemetery to house the guard with his rifles and ammunition. Fittingly, the body and accompanying building should be in place by Memorial Day next year.
“I’m honored to start the process,” Ihrig said.
Daniel Gade, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services, said in a press release that with the creation of the honor guard, the agency will be able to fulfill the sacred obligation owed to every veteran.
“This is just another demonstration of the commitment and generosity of the Hampton Roads community,” Gade said. “Our community partners are essential to our mission to honor and serve our veterans. »
Sandra J. Pennecke, 757-652-5836, [email protected]