Rancho Cordova Is Honoring Vietnam Vets

Source: City of Rancho Cordova  |  2017-02-03

Were you an active duty member of the U.S. Armed Forces from November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975? If your answer is yes, then the City of Rancho Cordova wants to hear from you!

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 9 million Americans served in the armed forces during the Vietnam War, and approximately 7 million are alive today. The City of Rancho Cordova will honor all Vietnam War-era Veterans with a recognition event on Thursday, March 30th from 7-8 p.m., at Rancho Cordova City Hall, 2729 Prospect Park Drive.

The City will proudly thank and honor Vietnam War-era Veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice. March 30th is recognized by the State of California as Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.

Each veteran, regardless of their location during the Vietnam War, will be presented with a lapel pin and proclamation as a lasting memento of the nation's gratitude. Join us for a presentation by Councilmember Bob McGarvey of lapel pins and proclamations to Vietnam Veterans in attendance, followed by coffee and dessert.

“Recognizing our Vietnam War-era veterans is long overdue,” said Council Member Robert J. McGarvey, who is leading the effort. “We want to let Vietnam veterans and their families know that we appreciate their service and sacrifice to our nation. The lapel pin says it all:  ‘Vietnam War Veteran,’ ‘A Grateful Nation Thanks and Honors You.’”

If you would like to be recognized or have any questions, please contact City Clerk Mindy Cuppy at (916) 851-8721 or mcuppy@cityofranchocordova.org by Thursday, March 23rd.

“Seabee” Veterans Changed Lives in Vietnam

Source: City of Rancho Cordova  |  2016-11-17

Bob McGarvey delivers his Veteran’s Day Speech. 
--Photo by Rick Sloan

Rancho Cordova Recognizes Veterans of the U.S. Naval Construction Forces

Veterans of the U.S. Naval Construction Forces, best known as Seabees, were recognized at Rancho Cordova’s 11thannual Veterans Day Ceremony.  The event was held at Sacramento VA Medical Center, Memorial Plaza in Mather.

The event provided musical performances by the Rancho Cordova River City Concert Band, as well as speeches from Congressman Ami Bera, Senator Jim Nielsen, Assemblyman Ken Cooley, Mayor David Sander. A flyover was conducted by the Vultures Row Aviation Team.

One of the honorees was David Cooper, who enlisted in the Seabees in his 20s after graduating with an engineering degree from UCLA.

In 1969, David was deployed to a Marine Firebase in Vietnam where he operated heavy machinery, surveyed construction, and participated in combat. On Christmas Eve, he and a group of Seabees visited a Vietnamese village to participate in a church service. During the service, a group of children came down the aisle in white robes singing “Silent Night” in Vietnamese. A child jumped into his lap, and David began to cry, realizing that the locals were just people like him. David decided to join the Navy’s “Civic Action” team, which supports underdeveloped villages and are considered “Navy Goodwill Ambassadors.”

For four months, Cooper helped build a new marketplace and school building, as well as install a sewer and drainage system. He also protected the village when it was attacked, earning him a Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal for his heroism. When he left the village to return home in 1970, the villagers held a huge party and presented him with carved elephants as a gift – a gift he cherishes to this day.

The City of Rancho Cordova is a vibrant community that values its veterans, having been the site of an active air force base. Many who served decided to establish roots in Rancho Cordova, and an estimated 5,000 veterans continue to call it home to this day. On this year’s Veterans Day, the City recognized the Seabees for their unique role as skilled fighters, builders, and goodwill ambassadors. The Seabees have a history of building bases, bulldozing and paving thousands of miles of roadway and airstrips, and accomplishing myriad other construction projects in a wide variety of military theaters dating back to World War II. “We build. We fight.” is their motto. The Seabees have continued to serve to this day and now include 7,000 active personnel and 6,927 reserve personnel.

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Sacramento Region Honors the U.S. Naval Construction Force

Source: City of Rancho Cordova  |  2016-11-03

Rancho Cordova’s 11th Annual Veterans Day Ceremony will be held on Friday, November 11 to remember our veterans and honor the missions of the U.S. Naval Construction Forces (Seabees).

Did you serve in the U.S. Naval Construction Forces? You are cordially invited to Rancho Cordova’s Veterans Day Ceremony to be recognized for your service.

The ceremony will be held in the Veterans Memorial Plaza at the Sacramento VA Medical Center, 10535 Hospital Way at Mather. Pre-program entertainment will begin at 9:30 a.m. followed by the commemoration program at 10 a.m. Music entertainment will be provided by the Rancho Cordova River City Concert Band, featuring the “Song of the Seabees.”

The Seabees’ motto of “We Build - We Fight” recognizes the work of the members of the U.S. Naval Construction Forces. The Seabees have a history of building bases, bulldozing and paving thousands of miles of roadway and airstrips, and accomplishing myriad other construction projects in a wide variety of military theaters dating back to World War II. The word “Seabee” comes from the initials “CB,” which comes from the term “Construction Battalion.”

The Seabees first became active on March 5, 1942 during World Water II when U.S. involvement was expected on both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. More than 100,000 Seabees were trained during World War II and have continued to serve since. The Seabees now include 7,000 active personnel and 6,927 reserve personnel.

Ceremony speakers will include Congressman Ami Bera; Senator Jim Nielsen; Assemblyman Ken Cooley; Kathryn K. Bucher, Associate Director of Patient Care Services/Nurse Executive at VA Northern California Healthcare System; Rancho Cordova Mayor David Sander; and Rancho Cordova Council Member Robert J. McGarvey, who spearheaded the first Veterans Day and Memorial Day events in Rancho Cordova. The Vultures Row Aviation Team will provide a flyover towards the end of the ceremony.

The ceremony is sponsored by the City of Rancho Cordova, the Department of Veterans Affairs Northern California Health Care System, AlphaGraphics Rancho Cordova, and Republic Services.

Rancho Cordova City Hall will be closed on Friday, November 11 in observance of Veterans Day. For more information about the event, please call (916) 851-8700.

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IRS Marks National Military Appreciation Month

Source: IRS  |  2016-05-26

May is National Military Appreciation Month, and the Internal Revenue Service wants members of the military and their families to know about the many tax benefits available to them.

Each year, the IRS publishes Publication 3, Armed Forces Tax Guide, a free booklet packed with valuable information and tips designed to help service members and their families take advantage of all tax benefits allowed by law. This year’s edition is posted on www.IRS.gov.

Available tax benefits include:

  • Combat pay is partly or fully tax-free.

  • Reservists whose reserve-related duties take them more than 100 miles from home can deduct their unreimbursed travel expenses on Form 2106 or Form 2106-EZ, even if they don’t itemize their deductions.

  • Eligible unreimbursed moving expenses are deductible on Form 3903.

  • Low-and moderate-income service members often qualify for such family-friendly tax benefits as the Earned Income Tax Credit, and a special computation method is available for those who receive combat pay.

  • Low-and moderate-income service members who contribute to an IRA or 401(k)-type retirement plan, such as the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan, can often claim the saver’s credit, also known as the retirement savings contributions credit, on Form 8880.

  • Service members stationed abroad have extra time, until June 15, to file a federal income tax return. Those serving in a combat zone have even longer, typically until 180 days after they leave the combat zone.

  • Service members may qualify to delay payment of income tax due before or during their period of service. See Publication 3 for details including how to request relief.

Service members who prepare their own return qualify to electronically file their federal return for free using IRS Free File. In addition, the IRS partners with the military through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program to provide free tax preparation to service members and their families at bases in the United States and around the world.

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Rancho Cordova Honors Merchant Mariners at Mather VA

Source: City of Rancho Cordova  |  2016-05-25

It wasn’t until the late 1980s when Merchant Mariners who served in World War II were classified veterans by the U.S. Government. 
--Photo courtesy City of Rancho Cordova

“In Peace and War Remembering our Veterans and Honoring the United States Merchant Mariners” will be the theme at Rancho Cordova's 10th annual Memorial Day Ceremony. The event will be held on Monday, May 30 at Sacramento VA Medical Center Memorial Plaza, 10535 Hospital Way, Mather.

Pre-program entertainment will begin at 9:30 a.m. and will feature the Rancho Cordova River City Concert Band followed by the commemoration program at 10 a.m.

During World War II, it is estimated 243,000 men served in the Merchant Marine. Mariners died at a rate of 1 in 26, which was the highest rate of casualties of any service. Yet few veterans’ organizations accepted them, they received no veteran’s benefits, and they were not considered veterans

It wasn’t until the late 1980s when Merchant Mariners who served in World War II were classified veterans by the U.S. Government. Those who served after and who serve now still aren’t considered veterans. Rancho Cordova wants to change this by honoring Merchant Mariners to celebrate their accomplishments and help them mourn and honor the dead who served alongside them.

Keynote speaker will be Thomas A. Cropper, Rear Admiral, USN (Ret.), President of the California Maritime Academy. Also on the program will be Congressman Ami Bera; California State Assemblyman Ken Cooley; Mr. David Stockwell, Director of the VA Northern California Health Care System; Rancho Cordova Mayor David M. Sander; Council Member Robert J. McGarvey; and Dr. Todd Irby, Deputy Secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Cordova High School, United States Air Force Junior ROTC will present and retire the colors. The Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Phelps Hobart of the Pacific Merchant Marine Council. The invocation and benediction will be led by Deacon Walter J. Little of St. John Vianney Parish of Rancho Cordova.

The newest commemorative bricks dedicated to local men and women of the armed services will be acknowledged by Dr. Dawn B. Erckenbrack, LTC, USA (Ret.), Associate Director of VA Northern California Health Care System. Brick donors will be escorted by the U.S. Naval Sea Cadets and Cordova High School, United States Air Force Junior ROTC.

For additional information, please contact Stacy Delaney at the City of Rancho Cordova at 916-851-8878 or Tara Ricks at the VA NCHCS at 916-843-9247.

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Veterans Healing by Writing War Stories

Story and photos by Steve Liddick  |  2016-03-18

Veteran writing program Co-Director Indigo Moor works with Emtt Hawkins, an Air Force veteran of the Korean War, to express his feelings about his experiences.

A character in John Steinbeck’s classic novel “East of Eden” had suffered unimaginable pain and loss in his life. He was asked how he could live with those memories. He said, “I forget by remembering.”

That concept is being applied to a small Sacramento area group of veterans of America’s wars. A writing workshop doubles as a support group to help each to offset the trauma of battle by giving them a way to confront the demons they continue to carry with them.

Rancho Cordova Library Branch Supervisor Jill Stockinger coordinates the writing program that is funded by a four-year state and federal grant. She said veterans returning from war are an “underserved population,” and those who still suffer the effects of war can benefit by writing. Therapeutic, of course, but the hope is that it will be enjoyable, as well. “Self-expression is a positive experience,” she said. “We encourage veterans to express themselves to help them adjust to civilian life.”

Seated around a table in a quiet room in the library, five veterans gathered to write of their experiences among others who will understand what they have gone through.

Local writer, poet, and CSUS and Sacramento City College English professor Bob Stanley is co-director of the group in the first of what will be four Wednesday evening sessions at the library. The remaining three sessions are: March 30th, April 20th, and May 18th. Veterans of all branches and all eras are welcome, even if they were not able to attend the first session.

“The main focus of the group will be to get words down on paper,” Bob Stanley said. Any subject, any form. No rules or pressure came with the exercise. Each was encouraged to express what they feel and put it in words.

Co-Director Indigo Moor is a poet, screenwriter, and author as well as a U.S. Navy veteran of Desert Storm. Moor read from the published works of several war veterans who had poured out their feelings as free verse poetry. One of those works was a poignant retelling of the poet’s visit to the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Judging from the reaction of those present, the words were resonating with them as well.

Another author wrote obscurely of things he heard, saw, and felt on a night patrol in Vietnam, but which each of the veterans present easily interpreted as a soldier waiting for the enemy to come at him from the darkness. Not knowing was as damaging to the psyche as combat itself.

At one point Moor asked those present to close their eyes and envision that “one moment that defines the [war] experience” for them. He urged the men to use the sights and sounds of their experiences in the writing exercise, “use the senses that keep us interested,” he said. Rather than a blow-by-blow account of what happened, he asked that they call upon their feelings and condense them onto paper.

Some who attended are still burdened by what happened to them in their war. U.S. Marine Corps veteran Daniel Gomez served four tours in Vietnam. Gomez was wounded twice and continues to suffer the health effects of the injuries, exposure to Agent Orange defoliant, and malaria. When asked why he was attending the workshop, he said, “To figure out why the hell I’m still here.” His war may have ended four decades ago, but it is still as fresh in his mind as yesterday.

The five men who attended the gathering represented different branches of the service: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force, as well as different wars: Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East.

Carmichael resident Bob Pacholik is an author of some renown. He was a U.S. Army combat photographer in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive. His book “Night Flares: Six Tales of the Vietnam War,” chronicles the war and honors the men and women who served in it.

Most of those present were there for the therapeutic value writing might offer. Some of the men said they hoped to continue to write beyond the program. Emmett Hawkins served in the U.S. Air Force in Korea. Among other subjects he is interested in religion and history.

For each of the veterans who took part in the Rancho Cordova writing workshop, the object was to reduce their experience down to its essence to help them to better understand what happened to them.

Poetry: a large idea, written small.

For additional information about the veterans writing project, check out www.saclibrary.org and click on “events.” Also, the library information line number is (916) 264-2920.

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Veterans Seek Alternative Treatments for Post-Traumatic Stress

Brandpoint  |  2016-03-01

(BPT) - Most people can’t imagine being terrified by the sound of a fork falling and hitting the ground. They don’t understand how someone cannot sleep because the fear of recurring nightmares keeps them awake. They’ve never experienced anxiety that turns everyday tasks into impossible chores.

But for thousands of American veterans, these are just a few symptoms that can make their lives unbearable. And while millions are aware of the condition they suffer from - post-traumatic stress or PTS - few are able to grasp the severity of the condition, and medical science is a long way from understanding the neurological causes of PTS.

In the news, stories of PTS tend to focus on bureaucratic mishandling, ineffective medications that have severe side effects and the general tragedy of those who are afflicted. However, there is also a side of the story that has to do with hope, strength and love. While a single cure has not yet been discovered for PTS, there are many instances of veterans finding peace and a path to recovery through some non-conventional - and often controversial - means.

Equine therapy

The greatest challenge for many who suffer from PTS is to rebuild relationships with other people. Many have found that a powerful way to lessen the anger and hypersensitivity that often prevents them from enjoying normal relationships is through caring for horses. Grooming, feeding, cleaning the pen and riding the animals helps those who suffer from PTS to return to the trusting and nurturing emotions they learned to suppress due to the stress of combat.

Acupuncture

This ancient Chinese practice of pushing pins into specific points on a patient’s body has gained widespread acceptance for a variety of medical and psychological purposes. The idea behind the practice is to heal and restore balance between various systems of the body. Though there is no conclusive evidence that acupuncture can help in all situations, several studies and many veterans report long term benefits in recovering mental stability.

Bariatric oxygen treatment

This treatment involves a patient entering a pressurized oxygen chamber for about 90 minutes, during which time they can read, watch TV or even take a nap. The theory is by increasing the oxygen levels in the body’s tissues and red blood cells, it will speed the body's natural healing capabilities and repair neurological damage. Though the treatment is still experimental, many have claimed this treatment is a miracle, and several studies have confirmed its benefits. The Purple Heart Foundation has invested money to make this therapy more readily available to veterans.

Medical marijuana

Perhaps the most controversial therapy on the list, there is a fine line between PTS patients being treated with marijuana and abusing marijuana. Nonetheless, as veterans returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, more tales of the benefits of medical marijuana began to emerge, leading many advocates in both state and federal governments to push for more research and availability.

Meditation

Meditation comes in many different forms, but the idea is the same: to create a quiet space in your mind through focusing on something as simple as your breath. Achieving the deep level of relaxation allows many veterans to begin to sort out their traumatic experiences. By no means is it a cure, but results from countless veterans and studies show meditation to be an important part of the healing process.

Because PTS is such a complicated condition that arises from experiences that are unique to each veteran, there may be no such thing as a one-size-fits-all cure. What this means is that each person needs to be treated as an individual, and have a range of treatment options available.

The Purple Heart Foundation is dedicated to doing just that. Through investing in research for therapies such as bariatric oxygen treatment, as well as supporting state-of-the-art programs like the National Intrepid Center of Excellence at Fort Hood, the organization is helping veterans live a full and rich life in the country they fought for.

To learn more about how your donation to the Purple Heart Foundation can help veterans with PTS, visit www.purpleheartfoundation.org.

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