Keith King has done so much over the last 40 years to help individuals who served their country that the short summary version of his biography is still six pages long. A Vietnam veteran, King helped found Chapter 9, one of the earliest and largest affiliates of the Vietnam Veterans of America, and also the state council.
He is president of the National Veteran Business Development Council, which has helped certify more than 600 businesses as veteran-owned and helped spur some $2 billion in investment.
He’s done other work at the state and national level, either to help devise ways to honor veterans through memorials (as a board member of the Veterans Memorial Park of Detroit) or simply to raise money to aid struggling veterans (as national president, Veterans Support Foundation).
Yet the longtime veteran advocate calls the latest accolade — being inducted into the Michigan Military and Veterans Hall of Honor on May 17 — among the most significant, because it is the hall’s first class of inductees. It’s also a far cry from the reception that King and his peers received when they returned from the controversial war in the early 1970s.
“This is the inaugural class and induction … that is particularly significant to me,” explained King.
King will be in good company. The hall’s other 11 inductees include the late Congressman John Dingell; Brigadier General Margaret Brewer, the first female to become a Marine Corps one-star general; the late business and sports mogul Mike Ilitch; a former Tuskegee Airman, Alexander Jefferson, who is a Congressional Gold Medal winner and late boxing great, Joe Louis. For a full list of honorees, click here.
King served in the U.S. Army as an MP based in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, where he manned an M60 machine gun helping to protect convoys supplying ammunition to allied troops. His affinity for advocacy came after he returned home and encountered the newly defined PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) that he and others had to cope with. The rest, as they say, is history.
King “set the standard of what it means to be a veteran helping other veterans,” said Ben Keen, the first vice president of the Veterans Support Foundation.
John Riehl III, president of the VVA Michigan State Council for the last seven years, said Keith “has always gone above and beyond for generations of veterans.”