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Iowa Lakes connects with service members, veterans

Virtual program highlights efforts to welcome veterans and those currently serving

By Staff | Nov 12, 2020

Dan and Melissa Lutat

With social distance and singing through masks, the Iowa Lakes Community College choir sang the National Anthem, the student musicians’ talents augmented by the Social Broadcast program’s new technical capabilities offered in the Janice K. Lund Performing Arts Center. Carol Ayres, instrumental music director, led the handbell choir in “America the Beautiful.” Pre-recorded and without a live audience, Dan Lutat, director of government affairs/ special projects hosted the event.

The speaker was Melissa Lutat, Career Pathway Navigator and Dan’s wife. The Lutats served in the Air Force for a combined total of 50 years, with deployments and assignments all over the U.S and beyond.

“Veterans are ordinary people who can be called on to do extraordinary things,” Dan Lutat said.

Melissa Lutat said the eight children she shares with Dan are highly independent and community-minded.

Melissa Lutat came from a close-knit family with eight siblings working together on the farm.

“Sacrifice and service are great innovative engines,” Melissa Lutat said.

Daughter LaCretia made the greatest sacrifice compared to her older brothers and sister, Melissa Lutat said. Attending eight schools in seven states, LaCretia helped with her younger sisters and developed enjoyments and pastimes that were portable throughout all of the moves.

A complex move from California to Nebraska just before the Lutats’ youngest daughter, Grace was born, with some of the children spending time with Melissa’s relatives while Melissa went to Air University in Alabama, showed the Lutats, “how precious life and family really are,” she said.

Melissa became emotional when she said, “I loved being an Airman, serving where I was needed.”

Melissa closed with a personalized version of Andrea C. Brett’s “I am a Veteran.”

The college has established a Veteran’s center on campus. The Iowa Lakes Community College student senate sponsored free meals for Veterans and placed honor trees dedicated to remembering the service of Veterans and those still serving the nation’s defense. The college is the recipient of numerous awards recognizing its contribution to serving Veterans and making further education accessible to them with a Veteran-friendly family of campuses and programs.

Iowa Lakes is part of the network that makes Emmet County a Home Base Iowa community.