Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-Pleasanton) and Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty joined Wounded Warrior Project ambassador William "Bill" Hansen, USMC, in asking the public to donate to worthy organizations supporting the country's military.
The Amador Valley High School jazz band opened the one-hour ceremony, followed by welcoming remarks by Karl Schroeder, president of Safeway's Northern California division in Pleasanton. McNerney and Haggerty also spoke.
Hansen, whose remarks were entitled "From the Front lines," joined the California National Guard as an Infantry sergeant in the Marines in 2002. He served in Operation Desert Storm, Somalia and Angola. During those years, he received numerous military recognitions, including a Purple Heart.
In February 2009, Hansen was in a convoy in Iraq when a lead vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. Though the IED only grazed the vehicle Hansen was riding in, his truck swerved off the road slamming into a drainage dish and then a brick wall at 50 mph.
Hansen suffered serious injuries in the crash, including broken bones and a traumatic brain injury. He was told he would never walk again without a cane.
For the past two years Hansen has worked at physical rehab in an effort to "heal my body and spirit," as he says. He has been involved in the military's Wounded Warrior Project, which provides long-term support and camaraderie for seriously injured veterans, including special events, discounted services and an online social network.
In his remarks last Friday, Hansen concluded: "You can overcome anything if you work hard enough."
After the ceremony, McNerney and Haggerty and Safeway Executive Vice President Larree Renda and Schroeder helped other volunteers assemble care packages for Operation SAM (Supporting All Military), an organization that collects, packs and ships "comfort items" to active duty personnel overseas. The group is also writing letters of support that will be included with the care packages.