IIf there is one good contagion, it is the jubilation shared by a large community of supporters when veterans who have risked their lives, or their mental and physical health, land on the brink of luck. In this case, these are the keys to home ownership.
It was like that on Saturday when the first 16 families of a neighborhood enriched with veterans were honored in a key ceremony, a milestone in a 56-home development project in Palmdale, built by volunteers, sponsors and a community partnership overseen by the nonprofit association. Homes4Families.
Homes4Families builds homes based on the Habitat for Humanity model. The Fortified Veterans Neighborhood is a partnership with the City of Palmdale and the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet), with major assistance from Los Angeles County.
Representative Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, a veteran Navy fighter pilot from the Iraq War was on hand to greet the veterans who will soon be moving into the first 16 homes.
“It’s something you deserved,” he told veterans. “You deserved it.”
Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who chairs the nation’s most populous county government, joined the welcome with CalVet Director Dr. Vito Imbasciani, a Desert Storm veterinarian. Also, Palmdale Mayor Steve Hofbauer, retired firefighter; Council members Austin Bishop and Richard Loa and retired Air Force Major City Manager JJ Murphy joined the event.
Murphy, who deployed in the War on Terror, noted that the ceremony took place on June 19 and that “180,000 African Americans, including 90,000 freed slaves, served in the Union during the war. civil ”.
Barger joined Joyce Gonzalez in hoisting an American flag atop a community space dedicated to the memory of Tom Hilzendeger, the Vietnam veteran who founded the Vets4Veterans association. Palmdale’s first Veteran of the Year, Hilzendeger passed away in 2020.
Gonzalez, representing Lou Gonzalez, the AV Chevy family, presented a check for $ 50,000. They represent a range of community donors and sponsors, including High Desert Medical Group and dozens of civic-minded groups.
“I never dreamed of owning a home,” said Vietnam War era veteran Warren Tymony. “I never dreamed that this could happen.”
Teri Thompson, a combat navy from the Vietnam War, scanned the audience and said, “I want to thank all my friends, all my buddies who died.”
He recalled that when he returned to the United States in 1966, “there was no such thing”.
He remembers being ashamed to wear his uniform, “and it hurt terribly.”
“This organization,” Homes4Families, is like saying “Thank you for your service,” he said.
More than 100 people, including state legislators, have called attention to the “opening” of California, after the worst ravages of the pandemic.
Homes4Family executive director Donna Deutchman noted that the group’s construction and volunteering has progressed even during the pandemic, with volunteers working in masks and socially distant outside.
“We never stopped,” she says.
People are still getting used to the idea of going out in company, inside and out.
During a brief encounter with a veteran friend at an indoor restaurant gathering, my friend walked over with an outstretched hand but quickly converted it into a punch. We shook hands and shared the old vet hug.
“I got the vaccine,” my friend said. “Not an outcast.”
My salute in return was that my friend, a civic-minded citizen and military veteran, was never an outcast. But, as with all those immunization moments that we shared in long lines during Army days, we wanted safety and survival. We lined up for our round of military vaccinations, usually without questions or complaints, and we survived almost every disease in areas from the Arctic to the tropic.
So it was a relief to share a handshake and face-to-face contact with a brother in arms, in a room full of good souls who have returned to Coffee4Vets.
A few days earlier, Dr Larry Stock, vice president of the emergency department at Antelope Valley Hospital, pointed out that the ‘Delta’ variant of Covid-19 poses a constant danger because it is 40% more transmissible and strikes stronger than previous variants of the coronavirus. . It is the unvaccinated, he noted, who still contract the contagious disease.
“We don’t want to go back to where we were in December,” Stock noted.
During the coronavirus outbreaks, the wards at the AV hospital filled up so quickly that patients were treated in parking tents while the morgues in Antelope Valley exceeded capacity.
In Los Angeles County, 67% of eligible people over the age of 16 received at least one dose. Fifty-eight percent were fully immunized with second doses. These are great numbers in the most populous county in the country, but more would be better.
Dennis Anderson is a licensed clinical social worker with High Desert Medical Group. An Army veteran, he was deployed with a local National Guard unit to cover the Iraq war for the Antelope Valley Press. He works on veterans issues and community health initiatives.