Thursday, Dec 01, 2016
Carol Marks
  • At the very first San Mateo County Veteran of the Year Award Luncheon, four outstanding honorees were recognized. I introduce you to them and congratulate them on their work to support veterans in our county. The San Mateo County Veterans Commission created three award categories, including Patriot of the Year, Enterprise of the Year, and Veteran of the Year. The 2016 honorees were:

    Patriot of the Year:  Carolyn Livengood

    Carolyn Livengood was nominated for this award by the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 464. They noted that in her entire career as a journalist, working as a news correspondent and columnist for the Mercury News and the San Mateo County Times, the focus of many of her articles has been about and on behalf of veterans, including articles about resource fairs, job vacancies, organizations that help veterans and vetera-centered events. Although she retired on June 24, 2016, she continues to write on their behalf. She's also been President of the Avenue of Flags Committee in support of the Golden Gate National Cemetary since 2009;n the committee holds the Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Wreaths Across America Programs. Over the years she has steadfastly volunteered her time, her skills, and her resources to Veteran causes. She was a perfect choice for Patriot of the Year.

    Enterprise of the Year:  Reveille - Peninsula Covenant Church

    Reveille, the military bugle call to awaken and report to duty, is the essence of what Peninsula Covenant Chuch asks of its parishioners through its Reveille Program. The Reveille Program sponsors monthly "Family Feast" meals and weekly desserts for veterans at the Palo Alto VA Polytrauma System of Care and at the Fisher House. It helps foster community reintegration for the veteran and active duty patients while they work on their long-term rehab goals. Reveille volunteers write greeting cards, make quilts, and put together welcome care packages for long-term patients at the center. They also helps military families with members who are suffering from traumatic brain injury through a number of special programs. Highlights include an annual Car Show and a Hawaiian Luau that gather veterans and celebrate their reintegration. It's wonderful work being done by the Reveille Program volunteers. Thank you.

    Veterans of the Year: Judge John Grandsaert and Tim Healy

    Judge John Grandsaert, appointed to the bench in 2004, has long been a dedicated advocate for those who have served our country in the military. Judge Grandsaert worked as a defences attorney, include as a U.S. Army Reserve office in the Judge Advocate General Corpos where he assisted reservists with their criminal defense to keep them from being dishonorably discharged thus preserving their benefits earned while serving in the military;

    In 2012, he launched The Veterans Treatment Court to address the specialized needs of military veterans facing criminal prosecution - whether it is substance addiction, mental illness and/or other service-related afflictions. Through the Veterans Treatment Court, Judge Grandsaert has partnered with a local veterans center to provide mentors and sponsors for those who come through his court. Most remarkable is that many veterans who graduate from his program beome peer mentors for others in the program. It is their way to give back and thank Judge Grandsaert for his work. Judge Grandsaert gives generously of his time, his talent, and his resources and as a patriot and a public servant, he, too, lives the military credo, "Leave no one behind."

    Tim Healy is a veteran who didn't make the transition back to civilian life after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Navy where he served as a rescue swimmer from 1986-1990. His life began to spiral out of control and he suffered from addition, homelessness and was in and out of the legal system. He survived these adversities and now thrives as a Peer Support Specialist at the Palo Alto VA Health Care Center. He spends his days engaging in outreach to veterans who, like him, have had difficulty connecting to services to which they are entiteld. He visits homeless encampments, emergency shelters, soup kitchens, and detox facilities looking for opportunities to help veterans break the cyle of homelessness. He is a graduate of the Veterans Treatment Court and he serves as a peer mentor to this day. He is a shining example of what the road back looks like. He is dedicated, fearless and passionate about this work. We are so fortunate that Tim has opened his arms to this opportunity and is making a difference in the lives of our veterans.