VHA 2020 Votes – Veteran Hero Awards

Veteran Hero Awards Nominees

Vote today! Voting closes October 15th.

All Award Categories
Joel Anderson

Organization Candidate for San Diego County Board of Supervisors

Position Candidate

Story

State senator for 12 years, supporter and constantly fought for veteran rights in California
Michael Barrett

Organization Working Wardrobes

Position Director Of VetNet

Story

Michael is a 20 year Marine Corps veteran who, while he was in was a Drill Instructor, became combat wounded and stayed in for another 12 years to retire as a 1st Sgt. He is currently the Director Of VetNet which is a program within Working Wardrobes in Santa Ana, CA. Everyday he goes above and beyond to assist our veteran clients. He gives the leeway to his associate to where they can provide additional assistance to those in need. He not only pushes to support veterans, but also their spouses and children who need help with resume review, job training, and job search assistance. I feel he is always locked and loaded and willing to do what it takes to help find those in need, gainful employment. While 2020 has presented many challenges for our Organization, beginning with the complete loss of our building due to a devastating fire on Feb 2nd, followed shortly after by the COVID-19 Pandemic. Michael has remained focused and has been the true definition of resilient in the face of adversity! He has led his team with unabated resolve and has implemented measures that have allowed continuous support those truly in need of all services our Program provides. Since the Fire and the onset of COVID-19, he has managed to successfully provide Program services to over 280+ clients, placed 45 Veterans into job placement thus far this year, and continues to remain a servant Leader to his team, partner agencies, and most importantly to the Clients he serves! His guiding philosophy is a belief that people are more powerful than the barriers they face and that all clients share a common desire to achieve success. The greatest measure of their success is hearing a client say, "I got the job!"
Johnny Boersma

Organization Mission One Ltd

Position President/Founder

Story

Johnny has spent the majority of his life giving his free time to Veterans. His inspiration came from his father who is a Marine and did his time in Vietnam. Volunteered for many organizations for countless years. He incorporated Mission One in 2017. A 501(C)3 tax exempt foundation and prides his foundation on giving back 100% of all money raised to the needs of Veterans. Including donating 4 vehicles to less than fortunate Veterans. Donating over 1,700 coats to homeless Veterans and 200 survival backpacks. There's nothing that he nor his foundation wont do to help Veterans in need. Between his full time job and his family, he is relentless on changing their lives and not just putting a band aid on issues. This man deserves the recognition of being a selfless hero for the heroes!
CARLOS BONILLA

Organization Goodwill of Southern California

Position Veterans Employment Representative

Story

Going above and beyond the call of duty. Mr. Carlos has dedicated countless hours on helping Veterans and their families. He has literally driven hundred of miles to provide supportive service to those Veterans and their families within the Inland Empire. His dedication of duty is a direct reflection of the organization. His direct contribution resulted in hundred of Veterans placed on employment, Homeless Veterans housed, and many more sent to their proper level of care within the VA Loma Linda System. His determination is without equal, and his presence within the Inland Empire has made an incredible impact as he helped many Veterans and Non-Veterans to reintegrate back into the workforce. His relentless determination to help has made the Inland Empire a place where Veterans can and will get the proper help and support they deserved.
Mark Casper

Organization Tech For Troops

Position Executive Director

Story

A Marine Corps Veteran and Executive Director of Tech For Troops, Mark Casper embodies the gung ho attitude to hire veterans. Early on in his tenure, he made the decision to only hire veterans into the T4T IT program. These veterans are mainly homeless or impoverished or veterans who just departed active duty. Veterans who are searching to better their lives and T4T is here to help support that desire. The vision is to broaden veteran opportunities by hiring additional veterans with a continued focus on individualization in the process. Building a relationship with each veteran is a huge part of our mission. T4T is a lean organization with 7 total employees and feel that they will need to scale up to 12-15 by mid-summer 2021. Casper says that each veteran on the T4T team is instrumental in serving the mission. He knows there is a definite gap between leaving the military and moving to the civilian workforce. We want to work to capture as many new veterans as possible before they fall on hard times and can’t get out. Through our lived experiences of working with veterans and documented research, veterans need a broader foundation of support early in their separation from the military. T4T would like to offer a more comprehensive program that connects opportunities to provide support for veterans by providing a straightforward approach to building their skills. The goal is to provide these opportunities in the training facility and also offer these skills through online training for those veterans in need but not hired who are out of the area. The program is called The Military to Civilian Bridge Program. He believes that this is T4T’s opportunity to stop veteran homelessness and poverty before it begins. Each hired T4T Veteran is part of an IT team that triages, wipes and potentially refurbishes computers to “gift away” to other in need veterans. There are other skills taught such as soft skills and logistics to supplement the IT skills. Through the T4T IT Program, graduates have been hired on Ft. Lee in the Network Operations Center (NOC), at Markel Insurance and at the Pentagon. T4T is also a Virginia Values Veterans (V3) certified employer that reports the number of veteran hires each quarter.
James Combs

Organization Employer Support of the Guard and Reserves

Position California Committee Chair/Nat. Vice-Chair

Story

Brigadier General James Combs (U.S. Army - Ret) was sworn in as California ESGR State Chairman in October, 2015 and was named to the ESGR Board of Directors, Vice Chair for Strategic Planning in 2018. Jim retired in 2009 from the Army after 42 years in uniform. He is a veteran of both Vietnam and Enduring Freedom campaigns. His capstone assignments included commanding the California Army National Guard, while deploying over six thousand troops to Iraq and Afghanistan and command of the 40th Infantry Division which deployed over two brigades under their oversight. Jim has also served as Marketing Director for BaleySuit Inc. while serving in the California National Guard. Jim has worked closely with California’s ESGR team while facilitating the Army’s force generation cycle. Jim supports many veteran oriented nonprofits since his retirement including his current post as President of the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Association of the United States Army.
Jennifer Delatte

Organization U.S.VETS Los Angeles

Position Workforce Development coordinator

Story

U.S.VETS Los Angeles Career Development Initiative in Los Angeles is the most hardworking non-profit organization program that is dedicated to helping veterans find GAINFUL employment in Southern California. They have a team of hardworking veteran talent specialists that spend countless hours individualizing and personalizing the job search experience for their veteran clients. They truly care about their veterans and work very hard to ensure that the veterans are getting everything they need to be successful in civilian employment. They also reimburse veterans for out of pocket costs on work related certifications and uniforms.
Lisa Diggs

Organization Blue Star Families

Position Volunteer

Story

Lisa’s Nomination #1of3 Since 2017, Lisa has stepped up to help and support the needs of our Military Spouses and Families, through being a Representative of Blue Star Families Volunteer Ambassador Program. She has made sure that local museums and venues are open to serving our military and Veteran Community though the Blue Star Museums and Parks Program, as a volunteer she presented plaques if appreciation to our partners. She spend many hours getting the word out about our COVID-19 RUSS survey to help families in need of support in areas of food, emergency services and housing, by getting the information we were able to help these military spouses and their families. In 2019 she was also very active in getting out the Military/Veteran Community Readiness Survey to find out what needs that Veterans and their families needed in transitioning into civilian job and life. Also she did ambassador duties of reaching out to Starbucks and Macy's to have outreach and commitment to them helping our families and spouses with fundraising for the many programs. Also Lisa is active in her local City if Riverside neighborhood engagement programs, such as HEAL Zone to help low-income families to have nutritional foods and active living activities in their Community. She is a 6th-8th grade Title One Teacher in a middle school, and she volunteered with the Family Resource Center to make sure that the families and students in need get school supplies, food, clothing and toiletries so that they can be ready for the start of a new school year, as well as Volunteer during the school year to insure that these families thrive all year. She volunteered at the Thanksgiving event and Operation Christmas child to make sure homeless and foster Families get food and clothing as well as toys. She is always looking out for her fellow neighbors, especially seniors and Veterans in need. During COVID-19 pandemic she checks in on her seniors and Veterans weekly, taking food, bread, toiletries and toilet paper to them. Nomination #2 Lisa participates in various volunteer activities to support military families in her community. She is very dedicated to her work! Nomination #3 Lisa volunteers for multiple organizations to support military families and veterans in her community!
Scott Eyth

Organization America's Warrior Partnership

Position Network Advocate

Story

Scott Eyth works as an Advocate at America's Warrior Partnership. He researches and connects Veterans with national resources when the local resources have been exhausted or are non existent.
Eldonna Fernandez

Organization Baskets and Beads Kenya

Position President/Founder

Story

Eldonna is a retired Air Force veteran. She served 23 years and retired in 2003. She has been a professional speaker since 2006 and has authored 2 books, co authored 1 book and is contributing author in something like 8 books. Currently her business is helping women in a slum in Kenya by marketing their hand crafted products. She is also working with veteran business owners by carrying some of their products in her retail locations in southern California. She is active in her church and is the women veterans ministry leader at her church. Through that veterans ministry they help and encourage veterans, visit the VA in Long Beach to encourage veterans and do other service such as visiting the food kitchen and working to serve meals or getting veterans services that they need. Eldonna created a non profit to help the women she is working with in Kenya to have food available to them while building their businesses to sustainability. COVID-19 has put a strain on the business so Eldonna returned to work as a Subcontracts Specialist to be able to earn income to sustain the business so the women did not lose the momentum they have gained. She doesn't tell anyone this but she received a stimulus check and donated the entire amount to give food to the women in Kenya. She has been a speaker at many veteran events and is an advocate for issues affecting women veterans. She has dedicated all of her life to service and should be honored an recognized as a hero. She currently works with a group of women in a slum in Kenya to market their hand crafted baskets, beads and other products to get them out of poverty. She is an accomplished professional speaker and author on negotiation and self leadership. Eldonna also serves veterans through her church and helps promote veteran businesses. See more about her work at https://basketsandbeadskenya.com
Stephanie Ferrell

Organization US Women Veteran Advocacy Initiative (USWVAI)

Position Founder/CEO/Exec. Director/Chief Veterans' Advocate; President/BOD

Story

Stephanie is a very self-driven veteran who has struggle with many phases of what Women Veterans face daily Wanting to make a difference in other Women Veterans lives, and to help them fight to improve their lives., Stephanie set about starting this USWVAI Organization. She set up the goals and guide lines and asked several other women veterans to help her make this dream of her's come true. She used her own inheritance money to do the start-up paperwork for the organization, she also used her own funds to purchase donations, such as Wal-Mart gift cards so they can buy food, personal care packages, or pay utilities, ect.. Stephanie has even set up a advocate group that help the other women veterans in fighting for their medical claims, thru the VA system, Social Security, housing or whatever else they may need our assistance with. Thur her hard work and those she picked to serve on her Board of Directors, she has finally the 501c statues to carry on her mission. Her main goal to reach is to build a sanctuary where women can come and live,and have food, and all the basics, while they build up funds to get their own place, rather then live on the streets, I believe in the dream and mission Stephanie has set; to serve women veterans. To date the USWVAI has helped and sponsored well over 300 women veterans, all within less then 2 years. I cannot think of anyone who has worked so much in so little of a time frame,and has helped so many women veterans using her own money to start the program, than Stephanie Ferrell. I truly believe she is a Hero. .
Jodi Galvin

Organization CVJP( community veterans justice project)

Position Founder & Executive Director

Story

Jodi Galvin started this organization in about 2018. She’s a former la prosecutor that now helps veterans, get upgraded discharge papers, find homes, pay bills and especially help court cases, illegal evictions, they work with a lot of volunteers , social workers, lawyers all giving their time to help the greater Los Angeles area. She’s married to a marine Corp Officer and one of the greatest human beings I’ve ever meet. She was recently recognized by la lawyers association at a black tie dinner event. I cannot say enough about this woman. She’s a God send to veterans in the LA area.