I was so honored to be selected by Assembly Speaker pro Tem Kevin Mullin as the Veteran of the Year for 2016 from District 22! There are many deserving veterans in our County and I was humbled to be this year's honoree.
A special lunch and ceremony was held at the State Capitol with Assemblyman Mullin, my fellow veterans from every Assembly District in California and their legislative sponsors. It was an honor to be counted among the veterans at this gathering. My wife, Maria Diaz-Slocum, accompanied me on the trip to Sacramento, and it was special to share this moment with her.
I served our country as a member of the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and I was proud to do so. I was just 18. I learned important life lessons that guide me to this day. One of these life lessons, "leave no one behind," is one of the reasons that I asked our Board of Supervisors to approve the formation of the San Mateo County Veterans Commission. The work of this commission is helping to inform county leaders about the needs of our 33,000 veterans. Our veterans are a diverse group who have served in many different eras of war and circumstance.
As a member of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, I was thrilled to be able to lend a hand to The Willows project which created 60 affordable housing units on the VA Campus in Menlo Park for veterans. The project is beautiful, designed around the needs of veterans, especially homeless veterans, and a testament to what can be done when we work together on a problem. I've challenged our county departments to join me and helping to end homelessness among our veterans by the end of 2016. We're not there yet, but we are laser-focused.
Thank you, Assemblyman Mullin.