VHA 2019 Finalist – Veteran Hero Awards

CONGRATULATIONS 2019 RECIPIENTS!

Veteran First Responder

A Veteran who is a Fireman/Policeman/Sheriff/EMT/Paramedic.

Richard Olszynski

Organization Orange County Sheriff’s Department

Position Investigator

Story

Investigator Richard Olszynski is a 20 year veteran of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department he is a true representation of Service above Self. Rick was recruited and selected in March of 2018 for his current assignment in the Judicial Protection Unit. (JPU) Inv. Olszynski is a USMC Veteran who earned the rank of Sergeant serving 6 years active duty and 2 years in the Reserves. Olszynski is a mentor to young veterans starting out in their Law Enforcement careers. Olszynski has ancillary duties of being the only Investigator assigned to the Court Operations Command and The Sheriff’s Civil Unit. He was sought out due to his strong work ethic and superior organizational Investigative skillset. Rick carries a voluminous caseload managing new and ongoing threats to the Orange County judicial officers and Orange County Superior Court staff. A vast majority of many of the high priority cases Inv. Olszynski has managed require multi-jurisdictional and multi-agency coordination. He routinely collaborates with Specialized Units to ensure the safe execution of lawful services including Search Warrants, Threat Assessments, Gun Violence Restraining Orders, and Arrests. Rick manages a diverse and challenging caseload ranging from assaults, drug and weapon violations to threats against the judiciary and staff. Rick has consistently dedicated his time and effort going above and beyond to providing the best investigative services possible. He is respectful and courteous to his co-workers and cares about the people around him. He has a great understanding of current laws and has shown great proficiency and organization while preparing cases for filing with the DA office. Inv. Olszynski has received praise from O.C. Superior Court Judges, Judge Larsh, Judge Bromberg and The current Presiding Judge Nakamura for his dedication and thoroughness in investigating, arresting and assisting with successful prosecution of dangerous subjects who have threatened officers of the court and or their families. Since being assigned to the JPU, Rick has shown a great dedication and effort with mentoring newer Deputies preparing them for patrol operations. He has trained several veterans who are currently active Deputies. The Deputies selected for this mentoring program under Rick have successful transitioned and completed the rigorous patrol training required by our agency. Rick has dedicated his time and knowledge to ensure these newer Deputies have all the necessary tools needed to thrive and succeed in the next chapter of their careers. Rick can always be counted on for helping other Deputies that work around him. He has helped in numerous civil cases with tactical plan preparation and pre scouted the locations of bigger operations before civil deputies had to enforce court orders in executing eviction orders of the court. Rick takes great pride in helping other deputies to adhere to officer safety guidelines staying safe by doing threat assessments when needed. Rick is tasked with monitoring Sovereign Citizen’s and their potentially extreme unpredictable conduct while in court or dealing with our civil staff. Rick routinely makes effort to contact court and civil deputies to give them feedback on their report writing and case follow up. Rick keeps track of all problematic or violent subjects and notifies the appropriate court staff of their upcoming appearances. Rick has been the case agent on several significant cases. His first day in JPU, Rick was met with a case where a suspect threatened to shoot a judge. Rick showed his knowledge and experience and obtained an arrest warrant for the suspect the same day. The suspect was apprehended into custody and was successfully prosecuted for this crime. Rick recently had a case where a parolee with mental health issues was attempting to harass a judge who had presided over his past cases. Rick immediately investigated the case and based on the suspects’ voice alone he was able to identify the perpetrator. He immediately located the suspect and took him in custody the same day. Rick is always able to conduct his investigations with a sense of urgency and high level of competency. Due to his experience, Rick is also an excellent resource for other Department Investigators who often reach out to him for advice on their cases. Rick is very passionate regarding judicial security during large events where there is a significant presence of judicial officers of the Superior Court are present. Rick is responsible for conducting the event security plan and coordinating the staffing between OCSD and CHP JPU. Rick has also done an outstanding job on providing our judges upon their request with an in-home security walkthrough as well as their online footprint check. He has identified several lapses in a third party company tasked with deleting the judges’ online footprint and brought it to their attention. In an effort to further his professional development, Rick attends courses advancing his professional education with organizations such as California State Narcotics Officers Association, Asset Forfeiture, Southern California Robbery Investigators Association, Dignitary Protection, Warrants and Legal Issues, Funding Terrorism, Sovereign Citizen Extremists, Terrorism Liaison Officer Conference and OCSD Advanced Rifle Course. Rick currently is in the process of completing his Bachelors of Science Law Enforcement Degree and scheduled to graduate in 2020. In closing, as his direct supervisor, I take privilege in recognizing the integrity and hard work he puts into his daily responsibilities along with utmost priority to his peers safety. I would have the trust to work under his supervision knowing he puts the organization and overall well-being of his peers at the top of his daily priorities.

Veteran Volunteer

A Veteran or someone who volunteers to serve Veterans.

Chris Merkle

Organization N/A

Position N/A

Story

Chris is a 14 year Combat Marine Veteran, who volunteers with TEAM RWB (6 years), TEAM Rubicon (4 year/worked with Hurricane Sandy efforts) was the Commander of the American Legion Costa Mesa (2 years) is an Ambassador for Warriors Scholar Program, served a Fellowship with Mission Continues in Orange County with a Children's After school Program and Greyhound Rescue. He serves with the Trauma Intervention Program, OC Chapter and volunteers 50+ hours a month, is a Vanguard Graduate and is apart of the Veteran Program there as a speaker, they created award the "Chris Merkel Leadership Award" with a Trophy because of all of his volunteering and leadership. He is a Saddleback Alumni and was named Alumni of the Year and Student Veteran of the Year. He also served in the Army Reserves for 2 years. He is apart of the "Max Love Project" at CHOC, plays Santa and is apart of the Little Warriors/Big Warriors project. He also Volunteers with Bolsa Chica Wetlands (4 years). He also is the Veteran Center Outreach Coordinator. In his spare time he is an Assistant Boy Scout Leader. As you can see by the above, Chris's volunteer efforts reaches out to low-income, minorities, women, children and Veterans. Chris is an asset to Orange County and ALL of those who live here. He has such a giving heart and can be found helping out where ever needed. What is not mentioned above is he is graduating this year in the Psychology Clinical Program and will finish his doctorate in 2021. The benefits his volunteering offer is endless. I believe that all of the work mentioned above is all volunteering including joining the Marines, although he got paid for being a Marine, he volunteered to be a Marine. Chris makes himself available and is just a phone call away.

Veteran Advocate or Mentor

Someone who advocates for Veterans, Veteran issues, and/or mentors Veterans in their personal life, career, or transiting from Military to civilian life.

Kristine Stanley

Organization N/a

Position N/a

Story

Kristine is a retired Air Force veteran that continues to serve her country. She has dedicated her time on and off the clock to serving veterans ensuring veterans connect to resources such as housing, employment, or benefits to name a few. She works endlessly for women veterans mental health, so no women suffers or ends their life from the scars of war or time in service. Her selfless acts are known by many and she deserves to be recognized for her pure heart of gold.

Veteran/Military Family Friendly Employer

Employers who hire Veterans/Active Duty/Reservists/Veteran Spouse/Military family Member.

UNITED HEALTHGROUP

Organization United Health Group

Position Vice President Quality Management

Story

While Kevin may not be the actual "employer" per se - it is often said that Kevin finds careers for more Veterans than many organizations whose mission it is to find careers for Veterans. We're not talking minimum wage, this-job-is-better-than-no-job-at-all employment, we're talking real careers with longevity and opportunity. Just look at his team, where the majority of new hires in the past five or so years have been Veterans. Kevin truly understands the skills and character that military service instills in service members and has gone to great lengths to ensure those attributes are recognized for potential applicants at his company. He hires Veterans - plain and simple, he coaches Veterans, and he also creates content online to help Veterans navigate the transition to careers even outside of United Health Group. Maybe it's the 25+ years Kevin spent in the United States Air Force or maybe it's his tenacious commitment to helping the Veteran community meaningfully re-integrate into civilian life, regardless of the source, Kevin alone is a force for Veterans employment that many whole institutions can not compete with.

Veteran Case Manager/Social Worker

Social Worker and/or Case Manager who goes above and beyond for the Veterans they serve.

Lisa Costa

Organization Mental Health Association

Position VA Certified Peer Support Specialist/Veteran Liaison

Story

Lisa works with the homeless population and veterans at the Mental Health Association. She also served in the military herself at some point in her life. She is a spectacular employee and great at what she does for the community. She deserves to be recognized. It is an honor to work with her.

Veteran Business Owner/Entrpreneur

Veteran business owner/entrepreneur for any industry, including Real Estate Agents/Mortgage Brokers/Salons/Construction/etc.

Gregory Krueger

Organization UpLift Transport

Position Founder

Story

Greg Krueger, founder of Uplift Transport, is an 8-year Army Veteran Medic, who served as a Non-Commissioned Officer in charge of a medical unit. During his tenure, Greg was responsible for overseeing construction of 452nd Combat Support Hospital (CSH) and led the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) room upon the completion of construction of the CSH. Greg has brought a new brand of energy and commitment to an existing industry based on a simple principal; transport people who can’t transport themselves from point A to point B, with dignity, compassion, immediate response and in a very cool, modernly equipped fleet of vehicles. Greg leads UpLift Transport through extraordinary customer service, ownership vision, the ability to pivot and react to opportunities as they arise and an unparalleled level of grit and passion. Greg is an authentic individual who has a powerful passion and purpose that emanates from his core, positively affecting all his business and personal interactions. A veteran that served his country, Greg continues to serve his community in a wide variety of volunteer capacities. Greg is part of the U.S. Veterans Business Alliance (USVBA) and Recently, Greg was privileged to donate his entire fleet of vehicles to the transportation of elder veterans who had served in WWII during the Hail to the Heroes celebration at the Pacific Symphony Amphitheatre. He made sure they were all transported to and from the event, safely and respectfully. He is constantly looking for service opportunities related to veteran’s affairs. Greg is also heavily involved in the senior services sectors serving on the board at the Residential Care for the Elderly (RCFE) Association, Oasis Senior Center, UCI Mind, and the Laguna Woods Senior Community. He also spends time serving as a Cub Scout Den leader and volunteering in his son’s classroom and soccer club, which serving as a role-model and father is one of the most heroic acts one can embark upon. Greg is a true leader and inspiration as an individual and in the business community! Please accept this nomination on my behalf, Respectfully, Brian C. Andersen, Founder & CEO, Telecomprehensive Solutions

Veteran Service Officer

Anyone that assists our Veterans with obtaining their benefits.

Tom Boscamp

Organization Coastline Community College

Position Veteran Service Representative

Story

Tom Boscamp was one of the first veteran friendly faces I have met when I got out of the military. Being an Army veteran himself, Tom understands veteran needs and how to help them transition. To say he is a hero is the least of it. Tom has helped countless veterans like myself find jobs, housing, food, laptops for school, books, furniture, and even helped me find an organization to help fix my car that had broken down. As my only means of transport it was causing me much stress as I was unable to get to work or school, he helped me immediately. He puts his heart and soul into helping other veterans and his impact on the community of veterans in Orange County is huge. He has a vast amount of knowledge and resources to help others. If anyone is deserving of your award he surely is. Anyone from the Coastline Community College campus in Fountain Valley can tell you what a big heart Tom has and how much he loves the veterans the sacrifice for this country.

Elected Official who support Veterans and their causes

Anyone including a Veteran who is an elected official that goes above and beyond for Veterans.

Andrew Do

Organization County of Orange

Position Supervisor

Story

In December of 2018, the Board of Supervisors deeded a 283-acre parcel in the city of Anaheim over to the Orange County Cemetery District with the requirement that at least 50% of the land to be dedicated to serve as a Veterans Cemetery. An action the Board approved in March 2019 dedicated another 10% of the land, from the civilian portion, to be used for Republic of Vietnam and Republic of Korea military and government veterans who fought and served alongside U.S. service members. This would be the first cemetery with dedicated space for America’s allies in arms. Supervisor Do is proud to have initiated this proposal to provide for a final resting place for Orange County’s Veterans and offer the community a space to honor them with the reverence and respect they deserve.

Veteran Service Non-Profit

Employers who hire Veterans/Active Duty/Reservists/Veteran Spouse/Military family Member.

CALIBER FOUNDATION

Organization Caliber Foundation- Recycled Rides and Changing Lanes

Position Brand Ambassador Executive

Story

Caliber Collision is the largest collision repair company in the U.S. Over the years, we’ve joined forces with the National Auto Body Council and many insurance providers to obtain and refurbish vehicles back to perfect working order and donate to veteran families in need.. Since 2012, we have gifted nearly 300 vehicles to veterans, active duty service members and others in need of reliable transportation, and look forward to more in 2019. Most recently, we gifted a San Pedro resident and veteran with a 2014 Toyota Avalon Hybrid. Thanks to this gift she and her daughter no longer have to walk to work and school every day. We are committed to continuing our support for veteran families in every community we serve. For Military Service Members who are transitioning out of active duty, returning to civilian life can be an unexpected challenge. But these men and women have given so much for our country that we’re driven to help them find the stability and satisfaction of a promising career in the collision and auto body industry. That’s why Caliber offers a no-cost, 18-week career skills program that results in job placement opportunities across the U.S. upon successful completion.