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Honoring all those who boldly pledged to defend our country Veterans Day is a reminder to honor the men and women of the military by Hugo Jiménez




ov. 11 in the United States is dedicated to paying tribute to the men and women who protect the rights and privileges Americans enjoy every day. On Veterans Day, we honor those who’ve preserved American ideals by fighting in wars, serving on overseas bases, in the reserves and in the National Guard. Everyone who served in the U.S. armed forces had a hand in keeping our country safe and the rights of Americans secure. Some served because they were drafted. Some enlisted to continue long family traditions of military service. Others served out of gratitude or because they felt a duty to give back to their country. Whatever their motives, the men and women of the armed forces are prime examples of selflessness. Some served during peacetime keeping a watchful eye while the country sleeps. Others served during war and never came home. Oftentimes, those who did return, came back with physical or emotional wounds that time never healed. Serving in the military is a difficult commitment, but veterans and active military men and women don’t seek recognition or praise. Still, veterans appreciate words of gratitude, “As far as Veterans Day, I never

realized the importance of this day until I experienced it the first time,” said Jerry White, a head custodian and member of Lompoc Valley Chapter 257 who served in the Army. “The feeling when someone thanked me for the first time was unexpected. I really like that I contributed to society in some way.”

VETERANS DAY GOES BACK NEARLY A CENTURY The roots of Veterans Day date to the end of World War I. It was first celebrated on Nov. 11, 1919 and was originally known as Armistice Day. In 1938, President Calvin Coolidge declared Nov. 11 an annual holiday. The U.S. Congress and President Dwight Eisenhower changed the name of the holiday to Veterans Day in 1954 to honor all veterans—not only those who served during World War I. Nov. 11 has been known as Veterans Day in the United States ever since.

Military service and CSEA membership often linked Many continue service to others as school employees


or many military veterans, service to others doesn’t end when their time in the armed forces is over.

“Our members who served in the military are a special group of classified employees.”

study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found veterans are more likely to have public sector jobs such as working for

a public school district. Veterans who work as classified employees know standing together through CSEA ensures better wages, benefits and the ability to demand the tools they need to provide quality service to students. “Our members who served in the military are a special group of classified employees,” Association President Ben Valdepeña said. “They learned good technical skills during their service that they use on the job, and they know the importance of working together for a common cause.” Carmen Rico, a family advocate for Delano Union School District said she learned a lot about teamwork during her time in the Army. “You have your role to play, you know your responsibilities and that you’re a piece in a big puzzle,” she said.


Photo by Tony Avelar

Many CSEA members are veterans or reserve members of the military. The knowledge they gained while in the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Navy or Marines make them extraordinary public servants and advocates for the rights of their union brothers and sisters. During their service, many learned about strength in numbers. That may be the reason why veterans often prefer unionized employment. According to the Economic Policy Institute, a higher percentage of veterans—16 percent, or 1.2 million veterans—work in a union job compared to 12 percent of civilians. Statistics also show veterans tend to be more devoted to service. A 2017 November/December 2018


SPECIAL VETERANS DAY SECTION “You may not like one another, or you may love one another, but when you have to get the job done you come together no matter what.” Rico, a member of Delano Elementary Chapter 175, added that her time in the Army taught her to have an eye for detail and to be organized—skills that she uses today as a Regional Represen-

tative and Chapter Communications Officer. “You learn to go through regulations, but you also have to be flexible and need to have a can-do attitude,” she said. “You have to know how to get the job done. You learn that no job is too big to handle.” For White, serving as part of the

Photo by Joseph Gallagher

Photo by Tony Avelar


military police in the Army was a lesson in being organized, self confident and prepared. “Serving was a challenge, stressful, and physically and mentally challenging, but I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything. It molded me into the man I am today,” he said. Like White, Laura Moore, a training specialist for Santa Ana Unified School District, said being in the military taught her countless skills and traits. Many of them help her excel on the job, including integrity, Laura Moore loyalty, the importance of being on time and efficiency. “All those things were developed in the Marine Corps and have helped me in my career with the district,” she said. Moore, a member of Santa Ana Chapter 41, added that going in front of promotions boards as a Marine taught her the skills necessary to achieve seven promotions in her school district. “They teach you how to sit and how to answer,” she said. “They’re kind of like interview skills.” As a CSEA member, Moore said she has been able to recapture the sense of

DIFFERENT BRANCHES OF THE MILITARY SERVE DIFFERENT PURPOSES Air Force The U.S. Air Force is the nation’s source of air and space power. The primary mission of the Air Force is to fly planes, helicopters and satellites.



Army The U.S. Army is the nation’s dominant land power. The Army generally moves in to an area, secures it, and instills order and values before it leaves. It also guards U.S. installations and properties throughout the world.

Coast Guard The U.S. Coast Guard’s mission is primarily with domestic waterways. The Coast Guard does rescues, law enforcement, drug prevention and clears waterways.

unity she felt in the Marines. “I’ve been a CSEA member for 23 years and I’ve been deeply involved during the last six years because it gives me that sense of camaraderie I felt when I was in the Marines,” she said. “I think a lot of vets are involved in the union because the two are very similar in that way.”


The importance of camaraderie stuck with retiree John Coffee after his time in the Army during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Coffee worked for what is now the Porterville Unified School District before being drafted into the Army. He returned to the district after his three years of military service and immediately became chief negotiator for the predecessor of Porterville Public Schools Chapter 38. Coffee said his time in the service taught him to be part of the solution when he saw something wrong. “If you don’t stand up and help correct a problem, there’s no one to

Marine Corps Marines are trained to fight by sea and land, and usually are the first “boots on the ground.” Marines refer to themselves as “the world’s fiercest warriors.”

Photo by Kevin Graft

“You have your role to play, you know your responsibilities and that you’re a piece in a big puzzle.”

blame but yourself if it continues going wrong,” he said. Coffee added the Army taught him to be detail oriented, to understand the importance of his role and of working for the collective outcome—all of which came in handy as a union negotiator. He says anyone—whether they served or not—can benefit from some of the

philosophies military service teaches. “The labor movement needs to recognize what veterans recognize,” Coffee said. “An injury to one is an injury to all. People have to remember that when you hurt organized labor, you hurt all of us.”

Navy The Navy accomplishes its missions primarily by sea but also operates by air and land. It secures and protects the oceans around the world to create peace and stability to make the seas safe for travel and trade.

November/December 2018


Focus Magazine  

Veterans Day (November/December 2018)

Focus Magazine  

Veterans Day (November/December 2018)