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Spartans Who Serve: MSU Veterans Share Their Service Stories

Collage of Spartan veterans

Spartans Who Serve: MSU Veterans Share Their Service Stories


Spartans serve in many ways. As a diverse community of more than 600,000, Spartans have a proud tradition of serving their communities and building a better tomorrow. Spanning back to the Civil War, generations of Spartans have fostered another legacy of service through defending our nation in uniform.

From MSU’s founding to the present, Spartan students, alumni, faculty and staff have served in our nation’s military, protecting the freedoms we hold dear. In fact, the entire first graduating class of the Michigan Agricultural College (now MSU) was excused before the graduation ceremonies in 1861 so that they could join the Union Army. Last year, as part of MSU’s Veterans Day Celebration, over 120 MSU veterans, and their families, submitted stories about their time serving in the military. These submissions included personal stories from Spartan veterans sharing experiences from as far back as World War II and extending to soldiers still on active duty today.

As we honor Veterans Day, learn more about a few members of the Spartan veteran community who shared their service stories and how you can help support the over 400 student veterans and 2,000+ military-affiliated students who call MSU home.

Support Spartan Veterans


Memories, Camaraderie and Connections: Colonel Gordon Bosch, ’67

Growing up in Holland, Michigan, Col. Gordon Bosch (’67, Civil Engineering) said he always had dreams of being a pilot and an engineer. Coming from a small town, Bosch said MSU attracted him because it was a big, exciting school with a highly successful football team and a well-regarded engineering school. Through MSU and the U.S. Air Force, Bosch was able to accomplish both of his career goals. He credits a recruiting event at the College of Engineering for helping him land his first job as a design engineer with LTV Aerospace Company. The job, he said, was a “match made in heaven,” except that around that time, he was told he should start thinking about the draft. Instead of waiting to be drafted, Bosch joined the Air Force and was accepted into pilot training, leading to his flying and engineering career with the military.

From 1970 to 1971, Bosch served as a C-7 pilot in Vietnam. Throughout his military career, he accumulated 1,500 hours of flying time in C-7 and C-141 aircraft, earning him the Distinguished Flying Cross award. After five years on active duty, Bosch held a variety of civil technical engineering roles with the military throughout the U.S., while remaining affiliated with the reserves and National Guard. Col. Bosch retired from military service in 1999.

For Bosch, Veterans Day reminds him of the honor it was to serve, and it gives him an opportunity to reflect on the camaraderie and connections that his time in the military and at Michigan State have provided him. He said his association as a Spartan has opened doors for him everywhere his career has taken him.


“A lot of times, it’s going to be that you get a job because you went to Harvard or Yale. But every job opportunity I’ve ever had, I would always say where I am from with the same pride as a soldier in the military. And it's always been respected.”


A proud Spartan, Bosch said he and his wife, Dr. Karen Bosch (’70 Elementary Education), still fondly remember their time as students at MSU, from living in Spartan Village and experiencing the 1966 “Game of the Century” 10-10 tie against Notre Dame, to enjoying games of pick-up football behind the Rock. The Bosch’s remain highly involved in the Spartan community in a number of ways, including being active in their local alumni club near Virginia Beach, traveling to MSU football games and financially supporting the Women’s Volleyball program.


Healing Through Unity and Community: Dr. Abigail Ramseyer, ’02

After almost 15 years away, Dr. Abigail Ramseyer finally returned home to Michigan this summer. Growing up in Traverse City, Ramseyer first started thinking about military service after seeing flight demonstrations of the Blue Angels at the annual Cherry Festival. It was in her junior year at MSU, during the trauma turmoil around 9/11, that Ramseyer chose to serve in the Navy. This decision to pursue military medicine, said Ramseyer, has shaped her life in countless ways ever since.

Graduating from MSU in 2002 with a degree in medical anthropology from the College of Social Science and a Health Humanities Specialization from the College of Arts and Letters, Ramseyer left for medical school in Missouri after receiving a scholarship through the U.S. Navy Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP). Following medical school, Ramseyer did her residency at the Naval Hospital in Portsmouth, Virginia, and then spent five years as a general OB-GYN at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina, in the third busiest labor and delivery hospital in the Navy.

For Ramseyer, Veterans Day is personal reminder of her family’s history. Her grandfather served in World War II and her father fought in Vietnam. Both her dad and Grandpa have since passed away, but Ramseyer said Veterans Day provides an opportunity to reflect on the unique bonds they shared. “My grandpa used to tease that it took 50 years for someone to outrank him, and I did my first day in the Navy. He called me ma’am or ‘Doc.’  I was honored to be able to salute him in uniform at his military honors funeral.” 

Veterans Day is also a recognition of the contributions she made to the health care of the sailors and marines she served, as well as of their families, and the many important relationships she built during her time in the Navy, said Ramseyer. From mentors, lifelong friends and even her husband, who she met while they both were stationed Portsmouth, Ramseyer said Veterans Day is a personal reminder of how important it was to wear the uniform and what that service also gave back to her.  

No matter where her military career took her, Ramseyer said she found Spartan connections who became like another kind of family within the Navy. Connected through the Green and White, Ramseyer said this Spartan community created a strong foundation for her. One of her most memorable experiences was traveling to Pasadena, California, in 2014 with fellow Spartan members of the Navy to watch MSU play in the Rose Bowl.

Through these common threads and a focus on community, Ramseyer is hopeful we can heal some of the divisions we currently face as a nation. Just as Spartans join together as one to support MSU on the field, she hopes this sense of unity can be used to tackle larger issues afflicting our country.


“In the Navy, the slogan is 'Honor, Courage, Commitment.' And I think those words embrace what it means to be a Spartan, too. I am proud to wear Green and White. It is something that unites us, a common theme. It's refreshing to be able to come back together and actually cheer together for one thing. And if we can come together to cheer for our team, maybe we can come together to solve the problems we are facing as a country.”


After nine years on active duty, Ramseyer left the Navy in 2016 to pursue a fellowship in palliative medicine at Texas Tech University. Her final rank was Lieutenant Commander in the Medical Corps of US Navy. After a three-year fellowship in Little Rock, Arkansas, Ramseyer returned to Michigan this year with her husband, James Fletcher, and two boys, Kellen (3) and Everett Fletcher (7). She now serves as a maternal fetal medicine specialist at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing and has a faculty appointment at the MSU College of Human Medicine.



picture of Gordan Bosch
Colonel Gordon Bosch, ’67 | Vietnam Veteran
picture of Dr. Abigail Ramseyer
Dr. Abigail Ramseyer, ’02
picture of Kellen and Everett Fletcher
Everett (7) and Kellen (3) Fletcher, sons of Dr. Abigail Ramseyer, ’02
picture of Aaron Etelamaki
Aaron Etelamaki, ’21
picture of Dr. Taran Silva
Dr. Taran Silva, ’15, ’19


Finding Support in Uncharted Territory: Aaron Etelamaki, ’21

During his transition to college life, MSU senior Aaron Etelamaki (’21 Kinesiology) said he leaned on one of the foundational traits he learned in the military: adaptability. After spending most of his adult life as an enlisted Marine, Etelamaki said he had some life skills to discover after separating from the military two years ago. “I was a Marine Corps sergeant who knew how to build an antenna out of scrap wire that could transmit a 26V radio signal from Spain to Colorado, but I remember asking my older sister ‘Hey, why is my landlord bugging me about renters insurance?’”

As a first-generation college student with much of his family back home in Maryland, Etelamaki said he relied heavily on resources serving student veterans at MSU to help him adjust to life outside the military. Etelamaki credits the support he received from the MSU Student Veterans Resource Center (SVRC), along with connections with fellow veterans experiencing similar situations, for helping him grow personally and academically since arriving at MSU. Because of the resources available to him, Etelamaki said he has been able to take a walk-run-sprint approach that has allowed him to thrive as a student.

Despite starting school in 2019, Etelamaki is now already academically a senior and has taken 88 full-time credits at MSU. Being able to navigate this difficult course load has been possible, he said, due to constant support from the SVRC and his academic advisors, along with financial assistance he has received from several MSU veterans scholarships, including the Lou Bender Endowed Scholarship for Veterans, Doane Veterans Educational Trust (VET) Endowment and others.


“Without these resources, opportunities and support, throughout and between complex semesters, I would not be the student with the focus and goals I have today.”


Etelamaki intends to graduate this fall and is interested in pursuing a career in medicine after MSU. In between his busy academic schedule, he is currently exploring medical schools, researching the application process and job-shadowing physicians to help him prepare for his next transition in life.


Caring for Military Members and Their Families: Dr. Taran Silva, ’15, ’19

For Capt Taran Silva, his military mission is ongoing. Currently on active duty serving as a medical officer in the in the U.S. Air Force, Silva is stationed near St. Louis, Missouri. As a family physician for the Air Force, he serves the medical needs of military members, their families and retirees. A 2015 MSU graduate with a degree in physiology and a minor in Spanish, Silva said his time in the Spartan Marching Band (SMB) first sparked his interest in joining the military.


“Being a member of the SMB was an amazing experience. I loved the fact that every week, 300 people from different backgrounds would come together to create incredible shows. Seeing the SMB members come together and work towards the same mission helped prompt me to explore military service.”


As a student at the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine (MSUCOM), Silva said he learned about the key role osteopathic physicians have historically played in the military health care system. The more he learned, Silva said, the more he realized his personal values and beliefs aligned with those of the Air Force. It was then that he applied for and received a scholarship from the U.S. Air Force through the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP).

Though he is still actively serving, Silva said Veterans Day is an opportunity to pause and refocus on the core principles that have contributed to his personal military story. “I do not come from a military family,” said Silva “but I do come from a community that taught me the value of service. Many of the same core beliefs that led me to MSU also led me to join the U.S. Air Force.” He said taking time on Veterans Day to reflect on these values helps him stay energized and motivated when doing his job.

To Silva, one of the best parts about being in the military is the community one develops with fellow service members. He said that one way MSU alumni can support veterans' lives is by helping them recreate that community as they transition to civilian life. Reaching out to veterans and finding mutual interests and hobbies can help rebuild a sense of camaraderie for those who may find it difficult to feel a sense of belonging outside the military, he said.

Silva remains engaged with MSU in a number of ways. In 2019, he traveled to Guatemala on a medical service trip with MSUCOM and has plans to travel there again with the college in 2022. He is part of a mentorship group for MSUCOM students and a member of his local MSU alumni club, the STL Spartans.



Support Spartan Veterans 

Together, we have an opportunity to support the Spartans who have served us. From veteran scholarship funds to campus resources, support from the MSU community creates opportunities for veterans studying at MSU and living in our communities.

Learn more!


The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

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