Jessica Mathews /

A local woman has received a National Service Impact Award from Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Governor Whitmer and the Michigan Community Service Commission recently announced 46 individuals, businesses and non-profit organizations that were recipients of the 2022 Governor's Service Awards – applauding their commitment to volunteerism, service or philanthropy.

Cortnie Parish of Howell is one of three individuals receiving the National Service Impact Award. Parish is the spouse of an Iraq War veteran and saw first-hand the impact on veterans and their families when they return home from combat service. As a result, she co-founded VETLIFE with her husband Josh - a non-profit dedicated to connecting veterans to benefits.

Michigan is home to over 600,000 veterans, but in 2019 less than 18% of that population were connected to a federal benefit earned through their military service. To address this challenge, she chose to launch a large free event for veterans and their families called Vet Fest. Since 2018 it has connected tens of thousands of veterans to benefits and helped veterans and their families through difficult times.

Parish is said to inspire others through her service. She works with community resource providers to help educate them on what benefits veterans are entitled to. Parish has created several other events that help food-insecure veterans, homeless veterans and veterans struggling with mental health concerns. Officials say without her selfless service, more veterans would fall through the cracks.

Governor Whitmer said “Michigan succeeds because of Michiganders who go above and beyond to serve their communities and lift up others. This year’s winners get things done even when nobody's looking because they know that every contribution makes a huge impact. I am honored to present the Governor’s Service Awards to this year’s 46 recipients and urge every Michigander to get involved in their community so we can move our state forward together”.

Winners were honored at the Fox Theatre in downtown Detroit Thursday evening.

Two press releases are attached.