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Tim Talk: Army association supports active duty soldiers

 

When Johnathan Woodman returned home to Livermore last November after nine years of active duty in the Air Force, he faced tough times.

He and his wife, Kayla, both were unemployed and were living with his sister. He served in Montana maintaining the nuclear missile facilities. His situation came to the attention of Trevor Stoneham, the leader of the motorcycle band who had welcomed him home. Trevor reached out to Doug Miller, the leader of the Association of the United States Army in the valley.

Doug met Johnathan and Kayla for lunch and introduced them to Joy Montgomery, who specializes in writing resumes and helping people find jobs. The association picked up her costs, and Woodman landed a job as a field representative with Procter and Gamble.

Now, he drives around the state installing or maintaining machines in hospitals, restaurants, medical facilities and other facilities that use Procter and Gamble soap products.

Kayla also found a job with Joy's help, but, because Johnathan was doing so well and they only had one car, she's staying home and they are living comfortably on his income. The position is ideal because the job is transferable should they move elsewhere.

The association also connected Johnathan with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and he spent a day there checking out possibilities. He has a classified clearance from his Air Force service, but no academic credentials.

That's just one example of the support offered by the association, which is the only military-centered nonprofit focused on personnel who are currently serving or were recently discharged.

The association will hold its annual golf fundraiser, the Bay Area Military Classic presented by The Cooper Companies, on June 25 at the TPC Stonebrae Country Club, which is located high in the Hayward hills with spectacular views of the Bay Area. The tournament also benefits Some Gave All, the Joey Graves Foundation.

The dinner that follows the tournament will include Wounded Warriors, military officers, Gold Star parents and others. For information, please see birdeasepro.com/BAMC.

The Army Association focuses much of its efforts on Camp Parks, which has 1,000 military personnel and 1,000 civilians working there year-round, plus the reserve units that come in for training. Doug observed that a Camp Parks assignment can often be a significantly financial hardship given the Bay Area's high cost-of-living. Many people live in San Joaquin County and fight the daily commute over the Altamont Pass.

The challenge can extend to officers. Maj. Puletasi Wong-Mageo will be transferred this month to a new assignment in Kansas. His family of six has been living in housing on the base and the Army will take care of packing up their household and moving it. But, they need to vacate their quarters during that process, which means nights in a hotel. The association contributed funds to offset those expenses.

For Army Reservist Sgt. Nolayan Herdegen, it was the connections that Doug and others have in the local community that paid off. His unit, the 75th Training Division at Camp Parks, was planning its annual holiday party at the Veterans Hall in downtown Pleasanton. One week before the event, they were notified that the hall was double-booked and they needed to move elsewhere.

They reached out to Doug who was able to reserve the Pleasanton Senior Center for the party. The unit filled it with about 300 people. Herdegen said the association went above and beyond, not only providing the facility at no cost to the unit, but members also provided excellent gifts that were given away by Santa Claus at the party.

"The AUSA plays a unique role by meeting the needs of currently serving families," Herdegen said. "There are several organizations serving veterans, but no other one has this priority and is the only organization outside the government playing this role."

Doug's connections and the association also serve the Veterans First program at Las Positas College in Livermore. Todd Steffan coordinates that program and notes that Doug has been great at leveraging his contacts with various groups to help meet the needs of veterans. Those have included emergencies such as vehicle repairs that the vet could not afford.

The association also will partner with the college on its Operation Gateway, a two-day orientation for veterans scheduled for July 12-13.

Editor's note: Journalist Tim Hunt has written columns on the Tri-Valley community for more than 40 years. He grew up in the valley and lives in Pleasanton. His "Tim Talk" blog appears twice a week at PleasantonWeekly.com.

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