For the first time in a very long time, the Stanislaus County Veterans Commission held its monthly meeting in Riverbank. It brought representatives of the many veterans service organizations from around the county to the Riverbank City Council Chambers on Monday, Oct. 26.
The group recognized the efforts of Riverbank resident Diane Talbert and her group, Royal Neighbors, for its service to veterans of the area.
The commission was welcomed by Riverbank Mayor Richard O’Brien, who reviewed for them the history of the Veterans Memorial Wall in Community Center Park.
He pointed out the park now honors 13 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who gave their lives in service to their country. The wall contains the names of service members from World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam and Operation Enduring Freedom.
The parents of Navy Corpsman Third Class James Ray Layton contributed to the memorial near the wall depicting the boots and rifle of a modern day soldier. Layton died serving with a marine unit in Afghanistan on Sept. 8, 2009.
O’Brien also told them the park was dedicated on Nov. 11, Veterans Day, in 1974, financed and built by local residents and businesses who wanted to do something special for veterans.
Talbert described her upcoming Veterans Luncheon on Saturday, Nov. 7, at the Riverbank Community Center. She also discussed some of the other activities and services she and her organization provide individually, especially to veterans in the Riverbank area. They help by assisting with banking, medical needs, eating healthy, rides to doctor’s appointments, shopping trips and other services such as house cleaning and yard work for homebound veterans.
The commission got an update on the process it is using to receive proposals for the development of a one-stop shop for veterans services in the county. They plan for the facility to house a banquet hall, activity and conference rooms, meeting space and room for social services. The Veterans Foundation of Stanislaus County is a non-profit entity formed to raise funds and assist in the management of the structure.
A topic that came up several times throughout the meeting was how to better assist veterans scattered around the county in traveling to Modesto, Livermore and Palo Alto to receive assistance and benefits. It was pointed out that a regular bus that brings some of them from Sonora to Modesto travels through Oakdale and Riverbank, but does not stop there.
The group discussed local plans to recognize Veterans Day on Nov. 11, including a parade in downtown Modesto.
Among those present included a representative from Congressman Jeff Denham’s local office, County Chief Operations Officer Patricia Hill Thomas and County Veteran’s Services Officer Jim E. Greer. Supervisor Bill O’Brien had planned to attend but was called away at the last minute.
The county veterans office is organized under the county’s Department of Aging and Veterans Services.
Commission members are appointed to represent the individual supervisorial districts in the county with two more positions appointed at-large.
Representing Riverbank and Oakdale, Waterford and parts of east Modesto, District 1, is William Johnson, appointed by Supervisor O’Brien.
The Veterans Advisory Committee, another name for the group, or VAC, was established by the Board of Supervisors in April 2012.
The next Veterans Commission meeting is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 23, at 5:30 p.m. at County Center III, 921 County Center Drive, in Modesto.