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Veterans Day Message

Veterans Day is a day Americans set aside to honor the men and women who have served our country. One day is really not enough to adequately show our appreciation for people who have given so much to ensure our freedom; nonetheless, it is important we take that day to honor our nation’s heroes.

Veterans Day began as Armistice Day in 1919 to recognize the service of the 4.3 million Americans deployed during World War I. Since that time almost 23 million Americans – men and women – have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. Of those still living, 2.1 million of them call California home.

As a legislator, I have the distinct honor of annually selecting for recognition a Veteran of the Year from my legislative district. During the course of that selection process I have come across so many stories of heroism. While the branches of service, the hometowns and the battles fought may differ, one thing remains constant – these individuals have selflessly demonstrated their belief in freedom and all continue to serve our communities well after their military tour of duty ends.

Just a few examples…
Derek McGinnis, my 2010 selection as Veteran of the Year, was a Navy Corpsman with the Marines 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion in Iraq. An explosion left him with a traumatic brain injury, shrapnel in his right eye and the loss of his left leg above the knee. After extensive recovery, Derek went on to participate in the Marine Marathon, a triathlon and surfing at Pismo Beach. He also wrote Exit Wounds: A Survival Guide to Pain Management in 2009, and became an advocate for military and veteran initiatives through the American Pain Foundation as well as a readjustment counselor for veterans at the Modesto Veteran Center.

The 2013 Veteran of the Year for Senate District 14 is Lieutenant Commander Gordon Dent Pickett (USN Ret.), who served in multiple wars, earned many medals, including multiple bronze stars, and continued to serve our nation as an educator, volunteer and representative for disabled veterans in the Fresno area until his retirement. His work included teaching evenings at Fresno City College and representing disabled veterans at the California Economic Development Department.

And just last month I read an article in the Calaveras Enterprise about Staff Sgt. Arthur “Guy” Sheble, a San Andreas veteran who founded the Sgt. Patrick Rowe Foundation to aid in the care of veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD). The foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of vets suffering from PTSD through therapy and k9 battle buddies, as well as conducting research on alternatives to medications for wounded warriors with PTSD.

Providing services for veterans, whether they are newly returning, struggling or aging, must be a priority. This year the Central Valley has two new veteran’s facilities. The Veterans Home in Fresno and a state of the art Veterans Outpatient Center in Modesto.

The Fresno Veterans Home is located at 2811 West California Ave, Fresno 93706 and can be reached by phone at 559-493-4400 or toll free: 855-769-5792. The new Modesto facility is located at 1225 Oakdale Road in Modesto and can be reached by phone at 209-557-6200.

On this Veteran’s Day – and any other day — please remember to thank a veteran for the service he or she gave us all. Without their service the United States and the world would be a much different place.