From Serving in the Marine Corps, to Volunteering for Veterans Connect: The Journey of a Veteran in Service to Others

November 8, 2021

“A lot of good things have happened to me, and part of my job is to help people have good things happen to them.”

– David, Sergeant E-5, Marine Corps (Ret.); Team Leader in 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company

David is a decorated combat Marine Corps veteran, whose story of service and volunteerism are deeply rooted in his childhood, family’s values, and personal passions.  His road to California begins in the Bronx, takes him through South Carolina and Georgia, through Dong Ha Combat Base in the Vietnamese DMZ, to Oakland’s Oak Knoll Naval Hospital, then on to Oakland’s Merritt Junior College and University of California at San Diego for his degrees, and currently Northern California. For the last 51 years, our state has the proud honor of calling David a Californian.

David fondly recalls a childhood full of family time, Sunday dinners, and learning lessons of “doing the right thing and being accountable.” A son to two loving parents and the eldest brother of three siblings, he welcomed the responsibilities that came with being the oldest son while his father traveled for work in construction. Summers, from grade school and through high school, were spent with extended family that he described “…in equal parts working on his cousin’s sharecropping fields in Georgia and then having a middle-class summer vacation in suburban South Carolina.” Crusader Rabbit was a childhood favorite for David, fondly remembering the cartoon character as “always doing good, or at least attempting to do good.” These moments proved formidable in shaping David’s adult life.

David attributes his enlistment in the Marine Corps as a “life saving measure.” Unable to complete high school in the Bronx, he found his way towards trouble. The Marine Corps welcomed a young incorrigible David, giving him a chance to redefine his future. He became a Team Leader in the 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company, and ultimately a decorated combat veteran after deployment to the Dong Ha Combat Base in Vietnam. He returned to United States after his tour of duty to undergo surgery at Oakland Hospital, where he stayed to recuperate, and from that moment, California became David’s home. After discharge he attended junior college and then transferred to UC San Diego utilizing the GI Bill. He completed a degree in Anthropology, while he volunteered as an after-school coordinator and mentor to young African American and Hispanic children in a very divided San Diego. With pride, he remembers being a role model to kids who looked like him and perhaps didn’t have the faith that they could succeed or attain higher education.

Fast forward to today: David is starting his sixth year as a volunteer with Veterans Connect. California public libraries, in partnership with California Department of Veterans Affairs, are working to connect veterans and their families to benefits and services for which they are eligible. Libraries, in collaboration with community veteran service organizations, can positively impact the quality of life for veterans.

“I live in this community, I am a veteran, and I have always given back; working for social justice or something that I think is important. truthfully am one of the luckiest people alive, my life is charmed thanks to my wife Beverly and her support and encouragement.” David gives his time to Veterans and their families through the Veterans Resource Center at San Leandro Main Library. With his brother in arms always at the forefront of his thoughts, David channels his care, knowledge, and compassion for fellow veterans into his volunteerism.

Veterans are especially qualified to volunteer to do this work because they have a unique understanding of the experience of fellow veterans, have navigated many of the services needed by their peers, and are connected to many other veterans.  To learn more about how you can help, find a Veterans Resource Center using this map and learn more about Veterans Connect by visiting Veterans Connect @ the Library.

California Volunteers thanks David and the millions of Veterans who have served this country and continue to serve their communities here in California, and around the world.

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