Happy Veterans Day To All Who Served

Happy Veterans Day To All Who Served

My dad, a Navy veteran, taught me the importance of paying respects those who have served from an early age. That’s why I’m proud to represent a district with such a diverse and active veterans community. From veteran’s advocacy groups to veteran-owned businesses to veteran’s employment initiatives, Assembly District 63 has an abundance of veterans making an amazing difference.

November is a time to recognize the service and sacrifice of these men and women and their outstanding contributions to our country. However, our homage to veterans must be a year-round commitment.

My colleagues and I in the Assembly are dedicated to ensuring veterans receive the services, benefits, housing, and jobs that they need. Veterans got the money owed to them because we created teams to help clear out backlogs in the federal Veterans Affairs offices. We also supported the California National Guard’s Work for Warriors program, which has connected thousands of veterans with employers.

Veterans are one of the Assembly’s top priorities, and we will continue to advocate for the needs of veterans and their families.

In honor of Veterans Day on November 11th, we’re featuring some of the great people, businesses and organizations in our veterans community.

To all service members and veterans, thank you for your service, and Happy Veterans Day!

VFW Post 7243: Anything but Ordinary

VFW Post 7243: Anything but Ordinary

You could easily overlook this simple building, but it’s anything but ordinary. Inside Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 7243, veterans find a welcoming community and a sense of home. “It’s important to provide a place to feel safe around people who understand the experience they went through and subsequent consequences” says Mike Laughlin, the Post Commander.

VFW began over a century ago when a group of U.S. war veterans banded together to give each other much-needed support. Since there was not yet medical care or pensions for veterans, they leaned on each other for comfort and protection. This small group eventually became a national organization of more than one million members.

Post 7243 carries on the VFW tradition of camaraderie by serving as a place for veterans to share a meal, watch sports and play video games. The Post also holds events at the Long Beach Veterans Affairs Hospital, where they offer free meals to veterans and their families, and work to help veterans cope with mental health issues and substance abuse.

VFW Post 7243 serves the larger community with activities like Christmas toy giveaways and events to educate youth about patriotism. Post members also strive to disprove negative stereotypes about veterans, which too often portray them as mentally unstable or dangerous people. As Commander Laughlin put it, “Not every veteran is Rambo.”

Through their outreach to the local community, the members of Post 7243 are well on their way to changing negative perceptions about veterans. Their keen sense of duty remains even after active military service.

What first began as a refuge for veterans, has become so much more. VFW Post 7243, along with Post 8615 in Long Beach and Post 1732 in South Gate, are a vital part of the 63rd Assembly District and a pillar of honor, service and patriotism.

Veteran History Project: Stories from Local Heroes

Veteran History Project: Stories from Local Heroes

Chaos erupted as the ships around him exploded, capsized and sank to the depths. The bombs struck his ship, but only partially detonated. So Chief Warrant Officer Henry Bates and the rest of the crew on the U.S.S. Tennessee quickly jumped into action to defend Pearl Harbor. Thousands of soldiers died that day, but Officer Bates of the U.S. Navy narrowly lived to share his firsthand account of history.

Often courageous stories like this go untold, which is why the city of Lakewood started its Veteran History Project. As a longtime military community, Lakewood renovated its Veterans Memorial Plaza in 2015, dedicating over one thousand memorial bricks to veterans. The City created the Veterans History Project to honor the lives of the Americans named on those bricks. Lakewood invites service members, along with friends and family of those who have served, to submit stories and pictures to their website. This online exhibition shares the experiences of service members ranging from World War II to the present day.

Some of the entries are tragic tales of lives cut short, while others include details of life and family after military service. You can learn about Army Sergeant Charles G. Brown who helped liberate German concentration camps, Corporal Douglas Vande-Vegte who was killed in the Vietnam War or Private First Class Alejandro Ruiz who currently serves in the Army.

The Veteran History Project makes Lakewood veterans more than just a name on a memorial. It immortalizes their stories and preserves invaluable pieces of American history for generations to come.

http://www.lakewoodveterans.org

WWII Vet Sam Sachs Remembers D-Day "Like It Was Yesterday"

WWII Vet Sam Sachs Remembers D-Day "Like It Was Yesterday"

Gazing up at a clear blue sky, Sam thought, “Dear God, do we have to go to war on a beautiful day like this?”
He looked down to see thousands of ships approaching the Normandy shore as planes and gliders fell from the sky. Before his flight, Sam had accepted that he would likely die on this beautiful day that would go down in history as “D-Day.”

At 104, Sam Sachs still remembers this day like it was yesterday. A Lakewood resident, Sam served in the U.S. Army in the 82nd Airborne Division, an advanced unit of paratroopers and glider pilots. Gliders, known in the military as “Flying Coffins”, were fabric covered wood and metal airframes towed to the battlefront by planes.

As an integral part of the liberation effort on D-Day, Sam oversaw logistics for soldiers, ammunition, food and transportation.

As Sam approached the battle, his glider was shot at several times. Miraculously, he made it to the shore safely, but that was just the beginning of the liberation effort. Sam then went on to help liberate concentration camps, where he saw misery and cruelty that he still recalls today. “In Europe, they didn’t call them ‘concentration camps.’ They called them ‘termination camps’ because no one who went in ever left” he said.

Sam is one of the few veterans alive who remembers this critical point in history. When asked what he wants younger generations to know about World War II, Sam said he wants people to under- stand the amount of sacrifice that soldiers made for their country. He wants us to remember that the civilization we know today only survived because of those who served.

Following his service, Sam went on to serve in the Army Reserve for 32 years. He also became a school teacher, teaching business courses for more than three decades. Over the years, Sam has received numerous awards for his ser- vice, including the Legion of Honor, the highest French order of military merit.

Personal stories like Sam’s can’t be found in most history books. As he talks about his sense of duty, he speaks not only for himself, but for the thousands of soldiers who didn’t survive the war. Sam and his fellow soldiers are the very essence of why we celebrate Veterans Day, to honor their sacrifice for the freedoms we enjoy every day.

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