Service is Service: Why I’m Giving Back to My Fellow Veterans

In the mid-1970s, I enlisted in the United States Army and served for three years from 1976 to 1979 as a missile systems repairman for the Cobra Helicopters (TOW) missile system. I was stationed at Fulda Germany in the 11th Air Cav, where I achieved the rank of Sargent E-5. When I returned from my tour of duty overseas, I utilized my “veterans preference” to land a good union job at the U.S. Postal Service, and I’ve been there ever since — more than 33 years.

But these days, returning veterans don’t have the same opportunities that I did. Far too many are jobless, homeless and struggling with physical and mental effects of their military service. Those brave men and women who served our country have earned – and deserve – our respect and support when they come home. That’s what inspired me to launch the non-profit Veterans Partnering With Communities, Inc. in 2011. Our goal is to help veterans transition successfully, in all aspects, back into civilian life. We provide a venue, resources, services, workshops, seminars, outreach programs, and strategic partnerships within our communities that efficiently, comprehensively, and effectively lead to the elimination of homelessness and unemployment within our veteran community. Learn more at http://www.veterans4communities.org. 

The organization was such a success that in 2012, I partnered with the City of Fontana, the San Bernardino County Department of Veterans affairs and other community sponsors to launch a partner program, the Fontana Veterans Resource Center, where we work to place veterans into low-income housing programs. We also build and grow partnerships that lead to employment, job training, fellowships and internships for veterans in our community. We provide internet access, veterans’ resources and benefits information, claims processing, counseling services, in-house and outreach training workshops with collaborative strategic partnerships in business, employment, health and educational organizations and professionals. We believe that our comprehensive focused programs together with a holistic approach is the most effective way to achieve successful and fulfilling lives and career paths for our veterans and their families.

I’ve dedicated my life to service; from military service to the Postal Service to community service, giving back to this great country is part of who I am. I have a theme to live by and that I use at our Veterans Resource Center. The message is after military service, “Our mission never ends,” when it comes to transitioning veterans and helping our nation’s communities.

I’m also an active and dedicated member of my union, serving as a shop steward with local National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) unions branch 1100 and branch 411 for 20 years. I also served as employee involvement coordinator and Customer Connect Representative as the (NALC) representative on the employee side for the United States Postal Service.  I’ve held several leadership positions in a variety of organizations and committees, including, the legislative and finance committees for the Dept. of California American Legion 25th district 1st vice Commander, Adjutant, and Finance Officer for American Legion Post 772. Currently, I serve of the Veterans Advisory Committees for Rep. Gary Miller, Assemblymember Cheryl Brown and the County of San Bernardino.  I’m also on the American Legion 25th District Finance Committee, Foreign Relations and National Security Committees.  In 2012, I was honored to be named a candidate for “Veteran of the Year” by State of California Assembly Member Wilmer Amina Carter.

But none of these accolades compare to the reward of giving back to my fellow veterans and helping them get back on the right path. My union job has given me the resources to raise a family, earn my degree and pursue my dreams in life. The union is a lot like the military in that they don’t believe in leaving any man or woman behind. And I’m so pleased to be a part of the new “Veterans & Labor – Partners in Service” program launched by the California Labor Federation.

Learn more at www.VeteransAndLabor.com.