Sacramento Region Honors the U.S. Naval Construction Force

Source: City of Rancho Cordova  |  2016-11-03

Rancho Cordova’s 11th Annual Veterans Day Ceremony will be held on Friday, November 11 to remember our veterans and honor the missions of the U.S. Naval Construction Forces (Seabees).

Did you serve in the U.S. Naval Construction Forces? You are cordially invited to Rancho Cordova’s Veterans Day Ceremony to be recognized for your service.

The ceremony will be held in the Veterans Memorial Plaza at the Sacramento VA Medical Center, 10535 Hospital Way at Mather. Pre-program entertainment will begin at 9:30 a.m. followed by the commemoration program at 10 a.m. Music entertainment will be provided by the Rancho Cordova River City Concert Band, featuring the “Song of the Seabees.”

The Seabees’ motto of “We Build - We Fight” recognizes the work of the members of the U.S. Naval Construction Forces. The Seabees have a history of building bases, bulldozing and paving thousands of miles of roadway and airstrips, and accomplishing myriad other construction projects in a wide variety of military theaters dating back to World War II. The word “Seabee” comes from the initials “CB,” which comes from the term “Construction Battalion.”

The Seabees first became active on March 5, 1942 during World Water II when U.S. involvement was expected on both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. More than 100,000 Seabees were trained during World War II and have continued to serve since. The Seabees now include 7,000 active personnel and 6,927 reserve personnel.

Ceremony speakers will include Congressman Ami Bera; Senator Jim Nielsen; Assemblyman Ken Cooley; Kathryn K. Bucher, Associate Director of Patient Care Services/Nurse Executive at VA Northern California Healthcare System; Rancho Cordova Mayor David Sander; and Rancho Cordova Council Member Robert J. McGarvey, who spearheaded the first Veterans Day and Memorial Day events in Rancho Cordova. The Vultures Row Aviation Team will provide a flyover towards the end of the ceremony.

The ceremony is sponsored by the City of Rancho Cordova, the Department of Veterans Affairs Northern California Health Care System, AlphaGraphics Rancho Cordova, and Republic Services.

Rancho Cordova City Hall will be closed on Friday, November 11 in observance of Veterans Day. For more information about the event, please call (916) 851-8700.

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Veterans Village Gives New Hope To Homeless

By Shelly Lembke  |  2016-09-09

The grand opening event drew a large crowd of proud contributors to the project, as well as a strong showing of the general public.  Many local political leaders appeared to show their support on a proud day for Rancho Cordova.

Dozens of dignitaries, citizens and news outlets gathered together August 31 for the opening ceremony heralding the newest phase of completion for the Mather Veterans Village, a new concept in housing for our military’s veterans who have found themselves homeless or disabled.

Master of Ceremonies, Doug Shoemaker, President of Mercy Housing California opened the event, which continued with Presentation of the Colors by American Legion, Post 709 and the Pledge of Allegiance.

The multi-million-dollar project was conceived and funded in part by the city of Rancho Cordova, Mercy Housing, Sacramento County, Mogavero Architects and Veterans Resource Centers of America and other charitable groups.

“We as Americans made a promise to these brave veterans,” said Marc Deal, Executive Director for Veterans Resource Centers. “We said, ‘Fight our wars, keep the wolves at bay, stand the wall, and when your watch is done, we will take care of you.’” He continued, “This is the finest example of not only keeping a promise but giving the best gift you can give a veteran: hope.”

One speaker and supporter who saw the need and benefit of Veterans Village back in the concept stage was Ami Bera, MD, Congressman, 7th Congressional District of California and resident of Elk Grove, who stated, “As a doctor, this was a no-brainer. As an American, this was a no-brainer.”

Other speakers included Supervisor Don Nottoli and Rancho Cordova Councilmember and veteran Robert McGarvey, who presented veterans in attendance with lapel pins and his own formal gratitude for their service to their country.

This phase provides 50 homes for veterans and their families in one and two bedroom homes. The site also utilizes various green technologies such as a solar hot water system, solar electric generation, 100% gray water landscaping irrigation, drought tolerant plants. Awnings outside windows also cut down on the summer sun’s rays, saving on utility costs and helping keep the units cool.

“The City of Rancho Cordova is a vibrant community with a strong military heritage that values its veterans,” said Mayor David Sander. “Once the site of an active Air Force base, it is still home to over 5,000 veterans and their families.”

Ten years from concept to opening day ceremonies, ground was broken on the project in late 2014. This current phase is one of three and puts Veterans Village residents in reach of many other badly needed support services, many of which are available at the Veterans Administration Hospital which is just blocks away.

The three-story, garden-style buildings also include 3,500 square feet of meeting rooms, staff offices, kitchen/lounge area, laundry facilities, and a computer lab.

For the opening day ceremonies, several residents opened their homes and gave tours. The apartment homes are light, bright and outfitted with accessible features and modern appliances. For most, this is a far cry from the crime and danger of living on the street.

Many of Veterans Village residents have been hit hard by some of life’s toughest circumstances. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from military service or family loss frequently leave sufferers vulnerable to unhealthy habits and behaviors resulting in drug and alcohol issues, which then become even harder to cope with and overcome.

Viet Nam-era veteran Ernesto Hayles serviced in the Army from 1974-76 and came home to bear the brunt of a nation unhappy about the politics of the conflict. Instead of the thanks of a grateful nation, he was pelted by cries of “baby killer.” After 40 years of suffering he was finally diagnosed with PTSD and began getting the help he needed. Along with his wife Roxanne and service dog Shadow, Ernesto now has access to job training, hope and a safe place to finally call home.

Another resident, George Thomas, whose mother attended, was a speaker at the opening ceremonies. He spoke eloquently about the ongoing struggles veterans face. Losing his father tipped the scales for George and he turned to drugs in an effort to escape the pain. He realized finally that he was not alone. Not only did he still have family members who cared, but that Mather Veterans Village is also his family. He feels he has a new lease on life, as do the other residents, and said, “We have a reason to live.”

The community is being built in three phases on a 3.65-acre site. Comprehensive on-site support services such as health care and wellness programs, veterans’ benefits claims assistance, substance abuse and counseling and support groups, employment services, Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services food deliveries and social activities.

With Phase I complete, Phase II will include a 46-bed transitional housing program, the Veterans Resource Center supportive service programs and administrative offices, a commercial kitchen and chef to provide three healthy, delicious meals daily to residents. Phase II will also be the gathering place for the community. Phase III will provide an additional 50 permanent supportive homes on site.

Mather Veterans Village is a place for these wounded warriors to find peace and hope and the help they need and deserve.

The event, which began with a flyover by the West Coast Ravens, concluded with a community prayer, the retiring of the colors and a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Light lunch refreshments were also provided for attendees and residents alike.

A true community effort, Mather Veterans Village was developed and designed by Mercy Housing California and Veterans Resource Centers of America. Mogavera Architects, Warren Consulting Engineers and Broward Builders, Inc. Property Management is by Mercy Housing Management and resident services are provided by Veterans Resource Centers of America.

Financing and Community Partners include the California Department of Housing and Community Development, the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee, the City of Rancho Cordova, Sacramento County, the Home Depot Foundation, Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency, Sacramento Steps Forward, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the VA Northern California Health Care System and Wells Fargo Bank.

For those seeking more information for themselves or loved ones, the process begins with referrals from community partners or from the homeless veteran himself, next there is an application and screening process through Veterans Resource Center, from there, applications are submitted to Mercy Housing and then continued by Veterans Resource Center and Mather Community Campus.

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Mather Veterans Village Receives Regional Honor

Source: City of Rancho Cordova  |  2016-06-22

Mather Veterans Village in Rancho Cordova was honored with a Housing Innovation Award by the Sacramento Housing Alliance (SHA).

As the first permanent supportive housing development for homeless and disabled veterans in the Sacramento region, Mather Veterans Village will be home to over 150 veterans with access to a comprehensive support network.

The project would not have been possible without commitment and collaboration between Mercy Housing, Veterans Resource Centers of America, City of Rancho Cordova and other critical partners.

“Mercy Housing is honored to have been part of the team to be recognized by the Sacramento Housing Alliance for Innovation in Supportive Housing,” said Stephan Daues, Regional Director of Real Estate Development, Mercy Housing. “As one of the leading voices representing and advocating for low-income communities across the region, SHA's recognition highlights the tremendous progress we are making toward ending homelessness as a community.”

Phase I is nearing completion with a total of 50 homes – 44 one-bedroom and six two-bedroom permanent supportive homes for disabled and homeless veterans. Phases II and III are expected to be underway in 2017.

Rancho Cordova was built on strong military service with families serving at Mather Air Force Base and living in nearby neighborhoods. Though the base has closed, veterans still chose to call this All-America City home.

“The City of Rancho Cordova is a vibrant community valuing partnerships, a variety of housing options, and resources for our veterans,” said Council Member Robert J. McGarvey. “No veteran should be without a home. We are honored to be recognized for this innovative project that provides essential affordable housing and wraparound services critical to ensuring that every veteran thrives.”

SHA’s annual fundraising dinner recognizes projects and individuals that have been integral to raising awareness about the need for affordable homes in healthy communities.

Stay tuned to the City’s website at for project announcements.

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IRS Marks National Military Appreciation Month

Source: IRS  |  2016-05-26

May is National Military Appreciation Month, and the Internal Revenue Service wants members of the military and their families to know about the many tax benefits available to them.

Each year, the IRS publishes Publication 3, Armed Forces Tax Guide, a free booklet packed with valuable information and tips designed to help service members and their families take advantage of all tax benefits allowed by law. This year’s edition is posted on

Available tax benefits include:

  • Combat pay is partly or fully tax-free.

  • Reservists whose reserve-related duties take them more than 100 miles from home can deduct their unreimbursed travel expenses on Form 2106 or Form 2106-EZ, even if they don’t itemize their deductions.

  • Eligible unreimbursed moving expenses are deductible on Form 3903.

  • Low-and moderate-income service members often qualify for such family-friendly tax benefits as the Earned Income Tax Credit, and a special computation method is available for those who receive combat pay.

  • Low-and moderate-income service members who contribute to an IRA or 401(k)-type retirement plan, such as the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan, can often claim the saver’s credit, also known as the retirement savings contributions credit, on Form 8880.

  • Service members stationed abroad have extra time, until June 15, to file a federal income tax return. Those serving in a combat zone have even longer, typically until 180 days after they leave the combat zone.

  • Service members may qualify to delay payment of income tax due before or during their period of service. See Publication 3 for details including how to request relief.

Service members who prepare their own return qualify to electronically file their federal return for free using IRS Free File. In addition, the IRS partners with the military through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program to provide free tax preparation to service members and their families at bases in the United States and around the world.

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Rancho Cordova Honors Merchant Mariners at Mather VA

Source: City of Rancho Cordova  |  2016-05-25

It wasn’t until the late 1980s when Merchant Mariners who served in World War II were classified veterans by the U.S. Government. 
--Photo courtesy City of Rancho Cordova

“In Peace and War Remembering our Veterans and Honoring the United States Merchant Mariners” will be the theme at Rancho Cordova's 10th annual Memorial Day Ceremony. The event will be held on Monday, May 30 at Sacramento VA Medical Center Memorial Plaza, 10535 Hospital Way, Mather.

Pre-program entertainment will begin at 9:30 a.m. and will feature the Rancho Cordova River City Concert Band followed by the commemoration program at 10 a.m.

During World War II, it is estimated 243,000 men served in the Merchant Marine. Mariners died at a rate of 1 in 26, which was the highest rate of casualties of any service. Yet few veterans’ organizations accepted them, they received no veteran’s benefits, and they were not considered veterans

It wasn’t until the late 1980s when Merchant Mariners who served in World War II were classified veterans by the U.S. Government. Those who served after and who serve now still aren’t considered veterans. Rancho Cordova wants to change this by honoring Merchant Mariners to celebrate their accomplishments and help them mourn and honor the dead who served alongside them.

Keynote speaker will be Thomas A. Cropper, Rear Admiral, USN (Ret.), President of the California Maritime Academy. Also on the program will be Congressman Ami Bera; California State Assemblyman Ken Cooley; Mr. David Stockwell, Director of the VA Northern California Health Care System; Rancho Cordova Mayor David M. Sander; Council Member Robert J. McGarvey; and Dr. Todd Irby, Deputy Secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Cordova High School, United States Air Force Junior ROTC will present and retire the colors. The Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Phelps Hobart of the Pacific Merchant Marine Council. The invocation and benediction will be led by Deacon Walter J. Little of St. John Vianney Parish of Rancho Cordova.

The newest commemorative bricks dedicated to local men and women of the armed services will be acknowledged by Dr. Dawn B. Erckenbrack, LTC, USA (Ret.), Associate Director of VA Northern California Health Care System. Brick donors will be escorted by the U.S. Naval Sea Cadets and Cordova High School, United States Air Force Junior ROTC.

For additional information, please contact Stacy Delaney at the City of Rancho Cordova at 916-851-8878 or Tara Ricks at the VA NCHCS at 916-843-9247.

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A ‘Welcome Home’ Event Celebrates Vietnam Veterans

By Patrick Groves  |  2016-04-18

The City of Rancho Cordova honored about 100 Vietnam veterans at the April 4th city council meeting. Photo courtesy City of Rancho Cordova

The war in Vietnam was a nightmare for most, but its memory brought together veterans in the Rancho Cordova City Hall where they finally received the “welcome home” not extended to them during the conflict.

The City of Rancho Cordova honored about 100 Vietnam veterans at the April 4th city council meeting. The city became partners of the United States Vietnam War Commemoration program launched in 2008 by an act of Congress. The Commemoration has honored Vietnam veterans since 2012 and will continue until Veterans Day 2025. The Commemoration and its partners honor veterans who served between 1955 to 1975, the timeframe of the Vietnam War.

“It brought back a lot of emotions and I had a hard time keeping it together up there,” said Jerry Hayes, a United States Air Force veteran who served between 1969 and 1973.

Hayes, 64, said public sentiment toward veterans has changed greatly since his tour of duty. While he remained stateside during his service, he had run-ins with people against the war. Once during a seven hour flight layover he considered changing out of his uniform into civilian clothes to prevent being targeted.

“I couldn’t believe how people were jeering at us as we got off the plane,” he said.

He said his favorite memories from the war were his down time, like watching the sunset from the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Wash, while he was stationed at McCord Field Air Force base.

“The pressure cooker of the war was enough to drive anyone insane,” he said.

The city currently has a two year partnership with the Commemoration, from 2015 to 2017. The partnership entails two events per year must be dedicated to Vietnam War veterans, said Stacy Delaney, an Air Force veteran in the city manager’s office.

“When Vietnam veterans returned from the war — in California or elsewhere — I think they did not receive the recognition they deserved,” Delaney said. “What we were hoping for with this event is to say ‘welcome home.’ ”

A little more than 3,000 Vietnam veterans live in Rancho Cordova, according to U.S. Census estimates. In Sacramento County there are a total of about 90,000 veterans including those who served during Vietnam, according to CalVet.

City Councilman Robert McGarvey, a former Vietnam serviceman himself, presented each veteran with a lapel pin designed by the Commemoration. The pin features an eagle representing courage, honor and dedicated service and other recognizable symbols on the front and the message “A Grateful Nation Thanks and Honors You” on the back.

“I think the generation who didn’t really honor veterans and called them ‘baby killers’ kind of grew up,” McGarvey said. “I think when we had the Gulf War in ’91 people started paying more attention to veterans.”

McGarvey said he makes a point to represent the needs of veterans living in Rancho Cordova through his position on the city council. He served in the Air Force between 1965 and 1967.

“It takes a while to get these things done, but it’s worth it,” he said.

Marilyn “Sue” Mellow, 70, was another Air Force veteran honored at the meeting. Mellow said the ceremony made her proud to be a member of the Rancho Cordova community, where she has lived for the past 30 years.

“I thought it was an extremely nice gesture,” she said. “I’m very proud of that pin and on Memorial Day, Veterans Day and other special occasions I’ll be wearing it.”

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Rancho Cordova Recognizes Vietnam Veterans

Source: City of Rancho Cordova  |  2016-03-22

Did you serve on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces from November 1, 1955 to May 15th, 1975? If your answer is yes, then the City of Rancho Cordova wants to hear from you!

The City will be recognizing veterans who served during the Vietnam War at the Rancho Cordova City Council Meeting on Monday, April 4th. Each Veteran will receive a special Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pin from the Rancho Cordova City Council as part of The U.S.A. Vietnam War Commemoration, of which the City is a proud partner.

Nine million Americans served during the Vietnam War period and 7.2 million are still living. Due to its military history, Rancho Cordova wanted to be a part of honoring these veterans in our community.

“This recognition should have been done a long time ago,” said Council Member Robert J. McGarvey who is leading the effort. “We want to let Vietnam veterans and their families know that we appreciate their service and sacrifice to our nation.”

If you would like to be recognized or have questions, please contact Delisa Verdun in the City Manager’s Office at (916) 851-8809 by Friday, April 1st.

Community members are invited to the ceremony on Monday, April 4th at 5:30 p.m. at Rancho Cordova City Hall, 2729 Prospect Park Drive.

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