Yvonne R. Walker: Honoring our veterans

Veterans served our country; now many serve our state

Everybody is familiar with the Marine Corps motto, “Semper Fi”; it means “always faithful.” In the Marines, that faith is in God, Country, Corps.

The Marines also have another motto, “Ductus Exemplo”; “lead by example.” Behaving in a way to inspire.

There are lessons we learned and practiced during my Marine Corps service. You are faithful to the Corps. Every Marine is responsible for watching out for each other. You make sure the whole squad can complete the mission, down to each individual.

Now, with thousands of our members who are veterans, we watch out for each other. And for all Californians.

Let me introduce you to two veterans who are now members of SEIU Local 1000 and continue to serve others.

Born in Yokosuka, Japan, Tom came here in 1974 and served in the U.S. Navy for 20 years before retiring in 2007.

“In 2009, I had the honor to begin serving the citizens of the great State of California with the Department of Motor Vehicles,” Tom said. “Being in a military town allows me to interact with active duty, veterans and their family members. I enjoy sharing the information I have learned about the valuable benefits CalVet has to offer.

“I also enjoy educating the public on the services offered by our Motor Vehicles Department and making each individual feel as though they are the most important person I am interacting with for that day,” Tom added. “The values of honor, courage and commitment have been instilled in me through my service to our great country and I would gladly raise my hand again if asked to do so today.”

A former Marine, Charles now works as an elementary school teacher at a state prison in Northern California. His job is teaching prisoners who never got a basic education.

“The values of honor, courage (and) commitment have been instilled in me through my service to our great country and I would gladly raise my hand again if asked to do so today.”

Tom, U.S. Navy veteran
DMV employee, SEIU Local 1000 member

“I have worked for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for the past 23 years,” Charles said. “I served in the United States Marines Corps for 12 years. After being medically discharged, I remained in California where I married and later adopted five children from 6 to 20 years old. I am also completing my doctorate in educational leadership.”

These inspirational veterans demonstrate their continued commitment to service.

About 11,500 veterans – 10,000 men and 1,500 women – work for the State of California. They are continuing to do what they did in the military: Serve their fellow citizens.

That’s why they refer to the military as “the service.” It’s the military’s main job: To serve. Our veterans served our country, and now they continue to serve while working for our state. They are not done. And we appreciate their service.

Imagine if more people had this concept of service. Imagine the richness they provide, the leadership they bring, their experiences from active duty.

Imagine what a richer place our state would be if everyone had the notion of service.

As a nation, we have been in conflict longer than any time in our history. According to CalVet, California anticipates receiving an additional 30,000 discharged members each year for the next several years. Those veterans will need services themselves.

As a Union, we’re committed to our veteran members. Our contract has enhanced sick leave benefits for veterans. The impact that long periods of conflict and multiple rounds of duty has on people and their families is significant and painful and very difficult. Those benefits are one way we can thank veterans for their service as they continue to serve all of us.

Semper Fi.

Portrait of Yvonne R. Walker
Yvonne R. Walker
SEIU Local 1000
About SEIU Local 1000 30 Articles
Representing 96,000 state workers, we want to give our members—and all Californians—the opportunity to have a good life, live in sustainable communities and enjoy the fruits of social, economic and environmental justice. www.seiu1000.org | 866.471.SEIU (7348)