VHA 2020 Votes – Veteran Hero Awards

Veteran Hero Awards Nominees

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
Roberto Arnold

Organization Alpha Prime Consulting LLC

Position Founder

Story

Roberto is a US Army Veteran, He served for over 15 years in which he was able to travel the world multiple times to include Iraq and Afghanistan. Roberto is the Founder of Alpha Prime Consulting, a firm that focuses on helping small businesses in the development of their company from inception to growth with an emphasizes of educating business owners in infrastructure, leadership, management and governess. He is the Co-Founder and Chief of Operations of Imperio Technologies, a firm that specializes in Business development. Imperio focuses on helping small businesses that are starting up, struggling, and seeking growth with their executive leadership- all through the power of Artificial Intelligence. He is continuing his education with the University of La Verne with a Focus on Business Management. He graduated from Westwood college with an AA in Criminal Justice and BAS in Business Management. He completed a cohort with University of John F. Kennedy in Chamber of Commerce Leadership sponsored by the CA Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. His affiliations with chambers of commerce range from local across southern California, as well as National such as US Veterans Chamber of Commerce. Roberto continues to contribute as a Vetreprenuer in the community helping Veterans launch their businesses and mentors them as well. He serves as the Commander of Post 30 American Legion in Pomona, CA. He is the current Director of Veterans Affairs with Casa De Adelanto Initiative to help veterans in need ranging from homelessness, disabilities, career enhancement, peer counseling, and entrepreneurship.
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.
Adam Castillo

Organization U.S.VETS

Position Peer Support Coordinator

Story

Adam Castillo has worked for U.S.VETS for 2 years as a Peer Support Coordinator and licensed Social Worker. Adam received grant funding to start a program in Orange County providing peer support and counseling for veterans in need. Adam is mentoring 2 Peer Navigators under him who aspire to have a career in social work and who are veterans like him looking to help other veterans. Adam has built an incredible network of resources in Southern California and partners closely with the VA to bring in as many veteran clients as he possibly can so he can provide outstanding care. Adam is a critical part of the mental health program's success. He also built a successful program that allows veterans to become certified peer specialists through a partnership with Loyola Marymount University. This program is now on its 6th cohort and without his work would not have the credibility that it does today! For that, we are incredibly grateful!
Jessica Castro

Organization Orange County Veterans Service Office

Position Veterans Service Representative (VSR)/Statistician

Story

Jessica is a multi-talented Veterans Service Representative/Statistician for the County of Orange. Jessica plays a vital role in ensuring accurate benefit claims/forms submissions to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Jessica reviewed the daily work submitted by the 5 Veteran Service Representatives. The importance of this work cannot be over emphasized as all work must be in compliance with State and Federal regulations. The State Audit Guidelines call for an Annual Report and Jessica is the sole source for this report and the accuracy of data submitted. The California State Department of Veterans Affairs and County always have received great results on these reports. What is really impressive is during this time of performing duties as the Statistician, Jessica has become and Accredited Representative with the California Department of Veterans Affairs and The American Legion, thus allowing her to present Veteran and Surviving family members benefit claims to the Department of Veterans Affairs, enroll Veterans in healthcare, assist in burials and educational benefits.
Kenneth Cates

Organization Fort Hood Area Habitat For Humanity

Position Executive Director

Story

Ken is an amazing mentor, leader, father of 7 girls and still pursues his passion of helping Veterans and the community. Ken has always been a kind man and if he doesn’t know the answer he will find it. After serving over 20 years for our country he understands what it means “No Man Left Behind”. Ken deserves this award because he has persevered through trials and has overcome these trials. Ken rolls up his sleeves and stands side by side with homeless veterans and helps them find a solution. His dedication and determination comes with humility and he isn’t ashamed.
Gary Chesterton

Organization Veterans Benefits Administration

Position Executive Management Officer

Story

Gary was Assistant Director at the San Diego Regional office when I met him at Takano's Round Table for Veterans in Riverside several years ago. He has since promoted in the VBA and yet is still as accessible & helpful as when at the San Diego Regional Office. I have contacted Gary for veterans in all walks of life needing various services. Each time I contact him he is always willing to assist each and every vet whether it be by assigning staff in the SD regional office or providing me with a POC (point of contact) at the Los Angeles regional office. I am so thankful to Gary and all he has done for the veterans I have encountered thru the years. Without Gary's assistance a Veteran and his family would have been homeless for the holidays, an MST survivor would have not pursued her claim, and so many other veterans would not have received the time sensitive assistance they needed.
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.