SAFE to match up to $10,000 in donations made to Sacramento Stand Down

By Carole Ferguson, SAFE Credit Union  |  2019-08-01

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - SAFE Credit Union is pledging to donate up to $10,000 in donations made to the Sacramento Stand Down Association to assist that organization in recovering from a recent theft of $40,000 of supplies meant for distribution to Sacramento-area veterans.

Sacramento Stand Down will hold its annual event on Aug. 9-10 where homeless and other veterans in need gather to receive services, medical assistance, and connect with government agencies and businesses to help get their lives back on track. The items stolen in the theft were designated to be given to veterans at the August event.

“When SAFE leaders heard about the unconscionable theft from Sacramento Stand Down Association, they knew that they needed to step in to help,” said SAFE Community and Advocacy Engagement Manager Amanda Merz. “Assisting veterans is one of our main pillars of philanthropy at SAFE and we consider it a privilege to help those who have served us.”

SAFE will match donations made to Sacramento Stand Down Association now through Aug. 10, up to $10,000.

“The veterans that depend on us are in need and now is the time to band together as a community to support them,” said Sacramento Stand Down Association President Randy Smith. “Our promise has been to help and support our homeless veteran population get back on their feet and though this loss has hit us hard, we will not renege on our promise! Our motto is that no brother or sister is left behind, that promise doesn’t have a qualifying statement - it must and will be kept. We thank you for your support and are proud to call you our partner.”

At last year’s two Stand Down events, some 600 volunteers served more than 300 veterans by providing them meals, clothing, medical services, and connections with government agencies, nonprofits, and businesses. Altogether, there are 667 homeless veterans in Sacramento, according to the 2019 Point In Time homeless count. Stand Down works to help homeless veterans who are disabled or mentally ill receive housing.

SAFE Credit Union has made members an integral part of its vision since 1940. Over the years the credit union has kept the focus on what really matters, putting members first, a formula that has seen SAFE grow into a leading financial institution in Northern California with $3 billion in assets and more than 235,000 members. SAFE crafts every cutting-edge product and sterling service with members’ needs foremost in mind.

In addition to banking services conveniently available through online, chat, mobile, or phone options, SAFE offers in-person care for members and small businesses at service centers across the Greater Sacramento region and a mortgage lending office serving Contra Costa and Alameda counties. SAFE is a not-for-profit, state-chartered credit union with membership open to businesses and individuals living or working in Sacramento, Placer, Yolo, El Dorado, Sutter, Butte, Nevada, Solano, San Joaquin, Contra Costa, Yuba, Amador, and Alameda counties. Insured by NCUA.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - With the appointments of Zoe Dunning, Ed Campbell, and Robin Umberg, the California Veterans Board has added three new members in 2019. Dunning and Campbell were appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom. Governor Jerry Brown appointed Umberg in December 2018. She was sworn in on January 2.

The seven-member board hears appeals by veterans who were denied services, including for a home loan, student waiver, or admission into one of CalVet’s eight veterans homes.

Zoe Dunning joined the board on August 2. A retired commander in the U.S. Naval Supply Corps, the 56-year-old was on active duty from 1985 until 1991. After leaving the military, she worked as a manager for the Deloitte Consulting and A.T. Kearney firms. She then worked in operations leadership positions at Webvan and Chestnut Company before serving as a change management consultant with various firms.

She currently serves on the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission, the San Francisco Library Commission, and is on the advisory board for the nonprofit Vets in Tech. Dunning holds a Master of Business Administration in strategy and operations from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

Ed Campbell, American Institute of Architects Emeritus, has designed projects nationwide during his illustrious career. A native of Santa Barbara, he joined the Naval Reserve at 17, then enlisted in the Air Force at 19, serving in drafting or logistics duties at Travis Air Force Base, in the Azores, and at the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force base.

He was an architect at USA Architects and Engineers from 1974 to 2014.                                   

Campbell, 80, helped found a home for girls in Connecticut. He also helped create the Ventura Music Festival, where he is a resident at the Veterans Home of California-Ventura. It is one of the eight veterans homes owned by CalVet. His list of professional honors includes a citation from the president of the American Institute of Architects for his work in response to the collapse of high-rise buildings in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1987.

Robin Umberg brings the experience of her 36-year Army career to the board. She commanded the 6253rd and 4211th Army Hospitals and deployed twice overseas. She earned her Bachelors of Science in Nursing from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Nursing and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Northern Colorado. She was appointed by President Clinton to the West Point Board of Visitors in 2005 – the same year she was promoted to Brigadier General – and ended her military career as the Chief, Professional Services, for the 3rd Medical Command at Ft. Gillem, GA. She focused on battlefield readiness for the more than 27,000 medical personnel. Umberg was inducted into the Order of Military Medical Merit in 2006 and she retired from the Army in 2010.

A year later, Governor Brown appointed her deputy secretary for Veteran Homes at CalVet, and later upgraded her position to undersecretary. She left two years later to beat a battle with cancer. Umberg serves on the Public Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan, and is a member of the Veterans Alliance of Orange County. She and her husband, retired Army colonel and current State Senator Tom Umberg, live in Orange County.

Campbell, Dunning, and Umberg join Board Chair Hugh E. Crooks, Jr., who was appointed in 2014; Charlene Taylor, appointed in 2012; Todd Trotter, appointed in 2015; and John Busterud, appointed in 2017.

Contact the California Veterans Board at
For more information, please visit CalVetConnect
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CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - The Citrus Heights American Legion Post 637 is once again gearing up to host the annual Veteran’s Appreciation and Resource Picnic to honor the area’s active duty servicemen and servicewomen, our retired veterans of past wars and conflicts, and their families. 

This free event will be held Saturday, August 24, at Rusch Park, 7801 Auburn Blvd. at the Gazebo/Pavilion and picnic area from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. All veterans and their families and friends are welcome.

The day will begin with the Citrus Heights Community Marching Band featuring some of its new repertoire. The Folsom Marine Corp Honor Guard will present colors, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance, and the National Anthem sung by Air Force Army Veteran James Miranda. Immediate Past Commander Paul Reyes will represent newly elected Post 637 Commander Sylvia Thweatt as Master of Ceremonies.

A special ceremony will again be held to honor an outstanding veteran and this year’s Police Officer of the Year.

Folsom resident Robert Snyder enlisted in the U.S. Navy at the age of 17, retiring after 22 years. Part of his service was on the U.S.S. Enterprise. For his second stint of 22 years Snyder worked for the Department of the Army out of the Sacramento Army Depot, helping prepare equipment for use in Operation Desert Storm. Twenty-two years later he again retired from service to his country.

K9 Officer Kyle Shoberg of the Citrus Heights Police Department (CHPD) has served the force for nine years. He will be honored as the American Legion’s Officer of the Year for, among a variety of other accomplishments, “his exceptional performance as a K9 handler, Wellness Advocate and as one for the CHPD’s Top Cops”.

Lunch will be a hot dog and hamburger barbeque with all the fixings prepared by Wild Wade’s BBQ of Citrus Heights. Music will be provided by DJ Carlos Verrett.

Dozens of veteran and non-profit resources including Veteran’s Administration representatives will be available to retired and active duty veterans. Scheduled children’s crafts and other activities will be provided by local Pageant ambassadors and princesses.

Picnic sponsors and members of the community are generously donating gift baskets and other opportunity drawing prizes to show their appreciation to our veterans. Raffles will be held throughout the day.

Covered, accessible picnic tables are available or bring your own chairs, blankets and umbrellas. Thank you for your service.

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Serving California's Veterans and their Families

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - Can military sustenance become scrumptious? Can drab be transformed into delectable?

See for yourself at CalVet’s 7th Annual MRE Cooking Challenge, Thursday July 18 at the California State Fair, an event that promises to be tastefully done. The Challenge pairs military veterans and noted local chefs as they look to impress a panel of culinary experts by turning those Meal-Ready-To-Eat packages – often dreaded by folks in the Armed Forces – into gourmet dinners. Or at least into something close.

Considered to be the marquee event of the State Fair’s Military and Veteran Appreciation Day, the extravaganza begins at noon in Cal Expo’s Cooking Theater, California Building B.

Here’s the day’s menu for your viewing pleasure:               

Classic Culinary Cooking Challenge

Noon: To whet your appetite for the upcoming challenge, several members of the California National Guard will take turns in introducing the veterans and celebrity chefs, provide a brief culinary history of the MRE, and host a trivia session. You will also be able to meet with the participants and sample bites from an MRE, getting a taste of what our military men and women dine on in the field.

3 p.m. – Deborah Hoffman of CalVet will be the colorful analyst during the second course. Chefs will vie for three randomly chosen MREs placed in the pantry, or whatever remains. Using their culinary skills and available ingredients, we should be treated to edible works of art … or not!

6 p.m. – And then, the greatly-anticipated main course will be served up by V101 radio personality Big Al Sams. The veterans and chefs, whom you met earlier, will team up to complete their mission: To turn MREs into appealing and tasty meals, using their skills and available ingredients. Judges will pick the winner based upon taste, presentation, skill, and showmanship.

7:15 p.m. – Dessert is Ceremony de awards.

This year’s field includes four veterans: Bryce Palmer, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and chef at Mulvaney’s B&L; Michael Hedin, U.S. Marine Corps, member education unit manager at CalPERS; Rob Gomez, U.S. Army, a California Highway Patrol sergeant; and Shannon Terry, California National Guard and a program director for the non-profit Work for Warriors.

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D-Day Remembrance with Living Legends at Aerospace Museum

Story and photos by Trina L. Drotar  |  2019-06-06

Commander Dean “Diz” Laird and Colonel Clarence “Bud” Anderson.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Seventy five years ago, Dwight D. Eisenhower authorized Operation Overlord sending 176,000 troops from England to France. The date was June 5, 1944. On the morning of June 6th, troops, including 18,000 parachutists, had landed or were landing on the shoreline of Normandy. An additional 13,000 aircraft had been dispatched to provide air cover for the troops. June 6th, 1944 is D-Day.

Clarence “Bud” Anderson was one of the pilots who flew 100 miles inland that day. He shared that story with a group of 100 visitors at the Aerospace Museum of California’s D-Day commemoration event on Saturday, June 1st. Anderson, a retired colonel with the USAF, was joined by retired Navy Commander Dean “Diz” Laird for a talk about their experiences during WWII.

“We are so fortunate to have them here today,” said museum director Tom Jones.

The men, a few years south of 100, entertained the audience for two hours, graciously posed for photos, and signed books, pictures, and memorabilia. They met the many attendees who stood in long lines for the opportunity to ask a question or to thank the men for their service, a phrase heard repeatedly.

Prior to their talk, museum volunteer Jim Ronko, dressed as a D-day glider pilot, led a group of nearly 50 people through a living history talk and reenactment. “Path to D-Day” began inside and finished outside in front of the C-53, a plane that would have carried gliders to Normandy. Volunteers dressed as parachutists sat inside and greeted children and adults. The tour set the stage for the talk.

WWII aces, Colonel C.E. “Bud” Anderson, USAF (Ret.) and Commander Dean S. “Diz” Laird, USN (Ret.) looked like the neighbor next door or a great uncle, belying the strength that both men displayed during WWII and continue to display.

“To all of our veterans, past and present, especially Bud and Diz, thank you for your service,” said Jones who provided an overview of D-Day before introducing the Placer High School graduates.

Anderson, a triple ace, served in WWII and Vietnam, and received, among others, the Bronze Medal Star, World War II Victory Medal, Air Force Longevity Service Award, and Vietnam Campaign Medal. He is a National Aviation Museum, EAA Warbirds of America, and San Diego Air and Space Museum International Air and Space hall of fame inductee. He is also a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.

Laird, born in Loomis, suffered from motion sickness but he had his sights set on flying. Among the 100 airplanes he has flown are the F4F Wildcat and F6F Hellcat. He scored victories in both the European and Pacific Theaters, set a record during the 1949 National Air Races where he flew an F2H Banshee. He is the recipient of Distinguished Flying Cross and Audie Murphy Award, among many others. He is also a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.

“Gentlemen, I salute you,” said Jones. The audience applauded and many saluted the two men.

“We were the hottest damn fighter squadron in the world,” Laird said, his voice quiet but strong. “We were told this, and we believed them.”

He talked about the new requirement to be qualified for night landing saying that most pilots were not enthusiastic and that reports from the executive officer “did nothing to bolster our morale.” Laird recalled a sky filled with 72 fighter pilots circling and trying to get into a traffic pattern. The men, constantly ridiculed, trained nightly. During the third week, Laird finally entered the traffic pattern, made several passes, and was determined to make the next pass his last. But he was going 10 – 15 knots too fast, caught only the top wire and was turned upside down.

“Damn Diz, we thought you were dead,” said the flight officer.

Laird did not have to make another attempt until he was back in the United States.

“It was a rather rough six months, learning new things from people who didn’t know how to do it in the first place.”

He threatened to punch his ops officer if he did not get a good mission. The mission, it turns out, nearly killed him, but he is a survivor who jumped out of an airplane for his 90th birthday and flew his 100th aircraft three years ago.

After flying a six hour mission, he returned to the ship, was seen by a doctor, and moved to sick bay where the doctor removed his appendix.

“You are one of the luckiest guys I know,” the doctor told him.

Anderson, it turns out, is also one lucky guy who credits the P-51 Mustang and Major General Jimmy Doolittle’s new instructions that fighter pilots could pursue and destroy while climbing to 18,000 ft. altitude. Previous mandates limited the planes to 15,000 ft. and required them to remain very close to the bombers.

“What a lucky break that was for us,” said Anderson. “That’s when victories soared.”

They were able to kill the experienced Luftwaffe pilots, leaving them with planes and inexperienced pilots. 

Anderson was the second flight to take off in the early morning hours of June 6th. Two squadrons of 32 aircraft were dispatched.

“Our destination was south of Normandy on the other side,” he said. The third flight leader said, “You know, that Bud Anderson seems to get home all the time. I think I’m going to follow him.” The mission lasted 6 hours, 55 minutes. A normal mission lasted 4 ½ hours.     

“It was a magnificent sight,” he said about the beach and seeing the troops and boats, adding that it was also the site of “incredible losses.”

After a standing ovation, complete with more salutes, the men met with attendees.

“You can be anything you want to be, just find something and excel at it,” said Anderson to Ryan, a young man.

Anthony Borrero, whose father also served in WWII, was one of the last to meet Laird.

“Thank you for our freedom, Commander.”

For additional information on Aerospace Museum of California, visit:


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Rancho Cordova Pays Tribute to The Fallen

By Shelly Blanchard, Cordova Community Council  |  2019-05-30

Families, friends and neighbors came out to honor those who gave their lives for our nation. Photo by Rick Sloan

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - An audience of 400 paid tribute to American men and women who have given their lives in defense of the country during a moving Memorial Day Observance held at the VA Medical Center at Mather Monday.

A group of 30 veterans were honored with the dedication of memorial bricks, which will be installed at the Veterans Memorial Plaza, located in front of the medical center – an annual tradition. They will join more than 2,000 which have now been placed at the plaza.

Hosted for the 13th straight year by World War II veteran Robert Burns, Lt. Col., US Army (Ret.), the gathering was an emotional mix of music, tributes and friendly rivalry among veterans from different service branches.

But if they could not agree upon which branch was superior, the audience was in complete agreement about the purpose of the day: paying homage to Americans who have died in service of their country over the generations. U.S. Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, and a host of city dignitaries took part in the observance, as well.

“We are so fortunate to be living in the United States of America, the most wonderful country on earth,” said Burns. “We honor those who have protected our freedoms, giving generously to our nation. Some gave all. And remembering them is what Memorial Day is all about.”

Robert Martinelli, Col., USAF (Ret.), a 30-year veteran who spent three tours of duty at Mather AFB, including as commander of the 323rd Flying Training Wing, and presiding over the closure of Mather in 1993, delivered an emotional keynote. Tracing a century of service at Mather, which was opened in response to World War I, closing at the end of the Cold War and continuing to serve the nation today, Martinelli also outlined the pride and dedication of those who served at Mather. His comments drew a standing ovation.

The Rancho Cordova River City Concert Band provided a musical backdrop with pieces dating back to World War I through the Vietnam War, with plenty of patriotic music, as well. Bagpipers Bill Adam and Bill Welch helped close the program with “Amazing Grace.”

The Memorial Day Observance was produced by the Cordova Community Council with the help of a community-based volunteer committee, Cordova High School Jr. ROTC cadets and assistance from the Veterans Administration Northern California Health Care System.

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Women Veterans Alliance Hosts Fun Run-Walk-Ride

By Rachael DiCicco, FSB Core Strategies  |  2019-05-30

Melissa Washington, Founder of the Women Veterans Alliance and Assemblyman Kevin Kiley presenting Maya Washington with an award for top fundraiser. Photo courtesy of Rachael DiCicco, Ford Motor Company

ORANGEVALE, CA (MPG) – On Saturday May 18th, the Women Veterans Alliance hosted its annual Fun Run Walk Ride for Armed Forces Day to bring awareness to women who have served. In addition, the run raised money for Women Veterans Giving to assist women veterans in starting or expanding their business, and to fund their attendance at professional conferences.

“It is our mission at Women Veterans Alliance to create a community of local women veteran groups—a group that may not have received much recognition for serving our country,” said Melissa Washington, Founder of the Women Veterans Alliance. “This Fun Run helps us raise money and awareness, as well as to show support for our military on Armed Forces Day.”

The Fun Run began with an opening ceremony that featured a presentation of colors and National Anthem followed by a fly over from Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento. Assemblyman Kevin Kiley presented certificates to the Top Individual fundraisers, Maya Washington and Lisa Lambert and Team Fundraiser, the Bad Ass Marines.

“It is an honor to be here to support the Women Veterans Alliance on a day as important as Armed Forces Day,” said Assemblyman Kevin Kiley. “What this organization does for our community and Women Veterans is truly extraordinary and I would like to thank all of the amazing women who have served our country.”

Following the Opening Ceremony, runners began the race through Orangevale Community Park while being led by the 2019 Ford Ranger.

The Women Veterans Alliance was established in 2015 to raise awareness of the number of women who serve our country, something that often does not receive much attention. Over 2 million women veterans have served our country and this number is rapidly growing. In addition, over 200,000 are currently defending our freedom at home and abroad.

About Women Veterans Alliance- The Premier Network
The Premier Network helps to connect over 2 million Women Veterans (and our supporters) globally for the purpose of sharing our gifts, talents, resources and experience. To create a community to equip, empower and encourage each other with knowledge, resources, mentorship and career opportunities for women that have served our country to discover and fulfill their greatest potential.

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