When 49-year-old Julian Bond was recently appointed by Governor Newsom to run the Veterans Home of California-Ventura, CalVet got more than just an experienced administrator. It received a retired Army colonel from a family with a long, distinguished, and storied history of public service.
His great-grandfather, James Bond, was born into slavery during the Civil War. He went on to earn his college degree from Berea College, then his ministerial degree from Oberlin College in 1895. When he tried to join the Army as a chaplain during World War I, he was denied because of his age. Instead, he began working with soldiers through the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) instead.
And Julian Bond was named for his cousin, civil rights leader and politician Horace Julian Bond, who won a Georgia House of Representatives seat in 1966 only to be denied it because of his anti-Vietnam War stance. The U.S. Supreme Court forced the state to seat him in 1967. That Julian Bond also led the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee that forced African-American representation in Georgia. He served until 1975, when he ran for a seat in the U.S. Congress, but lost to John Lewis, who still holds the seat. Bond then hosted a PBS documentary and went on to serve five terms as chairman of the NAACP national organization from 1998 until 2010. He passed away in 2015.
“That’s who inspired me to serve others before self,” the younger Julian Bond said. “He was my mentor.”
What his older cousin didn’t expect was for him and relatives to join the military. The younger Bond’s father, Thomas, rose to the rank of lieutenant in the Army during the Korean War, Bond’s brother, Richard Bond, was a West Point graduate who retired from the Army as a lieutenant colonel in 2014. The younger Julian Bond’s own Army career took him to the Middle East for Operation Iraqi Freedom, as well as duties in Ukraine, South Korea, Germany, Poland, and “all over the globe,” he said. If anything, the younger Bond opened his older cousin’s eyes to rethink his view of the military.
“I had lots of talks with him,” Bond said. “I think I shaped his impression about what he thought of the military.”
The American military, he explained to his cousin, wasn’t just West Point grads. It is and needs to be a tapestry of American society.
“Through my service in the military, he was able to see that,” Bond said. “We truly are ambassadors for America to other countries. For some people in those countries, we were the only Americans they will ever meet. After I was deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005 and 2006, he saw pictures of me with kids from the local population and he said, ‘Wow, it was great that you where there when (the Iraqis) held their election in 2006.’ Freedom is not simply meant for Americans.”
Bond’s list of military honors includes the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, and Meritorious Service Medal.
Military life meant 14 moves for his family, which consists of wife, Charmaine; daughter Alexis; and sons Adam, Christian and Jax. Two of his children are following him into public service. Christian attends Arizona State University and is in Reserve Officers’ Training corps (ROTC). He’ll emerge as an Army lieutenant. Adam is a police officer in Iowa. Alexis attends California State University, Channel Islands on her dad’s GI Bill benefits. Jax attends high school in Santa Clarita, where the family lives in the home Bond bought using CalVet’s Home Loan program.
Bond served on Gov. Brown’s logistics task force during the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles in 2015. After retiring as a colonel in 2018, Bond served as an acting associate director and chief supply chain officer for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. He has a Master of Science degree in emergency and disaster management. He is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the National Eagle Scout Association, and, like his cousin, the NAACP.
And now, he brings that wealth of experience to CalVet and the Veterans Home in Ventura, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary in December.
“We really want to push that with local elected officials, the employees, the hundreds of volunteers and the residents,” he said. “We want to showcase the home as a place where we honor our veterans. The Girls Scouts recently redid the bocce courts. There is a master gardener group. We want to harness the energy of those who garden, and their love for flora and fauna. We want to make the Ventura home the home for community service.”
Which, for Bond, simply is in keeping with his family’s tradition.