Four women veterans will be honored virtually on Wednesday, October 21 during the annual 2020 Women Veterans Reception taking place from 6-7:30 p.m.
The veterans will be recognized for their leadership and noteworthy impact on their communities with the annual California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) Trailblazer Award. The 2020 awardees are: Cecilia Salazar of Fresno, Eileen C. Moore of Santa Ana, Rosalie Rae Sauceda of Lathrop, and Shakera Elrington of Oakland. Over 20 women veterans were nominated for this year’s award. The categories that nominators were asked to consider were: Healthcare, Education, Social Justice, and First Responders.
Cecilia Salazar, a psychiatric mental health nurse for two decades, joined the Navy as a direct commissioned officer in 1999 and was then recalled to active duty in 2003 to Naval Medical Center San Diego in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. She worked from 2008 to 2010 at Landstuhl, Germany with the Navy Expeditionary Medical Unit, supporting wounded warriors. She returned to Germany in 2013 as the medical director for the Navy Warrior Transition Program. In April 2020, she volunteered to go to New York City to work with COVID-19 patients in the ICU at Kings County Hospital, as part of the Navy Medical Support Team there.
Eileen Moore served as a combat nurse in the Army Nurse Corp in Vietnam, earning the Vietnam Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm. She went on to law school after leaving the military, becoming an appellate judge in 2000. In 2008, Moore launched the Judicial Council’s Veterans and Military Families Subcommittee, chairing it since its inception. The committee created the MIL-100 form that identifies veterans who appear in California’s courts to ensure the veteran’s rights are recognized. She likewise recruited veterans to mentor veterans in California’s first veterans court; she herself mentored women veterans, many of whom are military sexual trauma survivors. She continues to be a staunch advocate for veterans in the court system.
Rosalie Sauceda joined the U.S. Army Reserve shortly after graduating from Manteca High School in 2002, and went onto San Jose State University. She received her commission through Santa Clara University’s ROTC program and served five years as a Signal Corps officer before leaving the service in 2013. Sauceda now teaches English at Stockton’s Lincoln High School and is co-advisor for the school’s Gender and Sexualities Alliance. She and her husband developed a podcast titled “Educators, Not Robots.” It’s a series of casual conversations with local teachers – that shows their humanity, love for teaching and their students, and providing non-educators a greater understanding of the teaching field. It is available on various podcasting platforms and on YouTube. Throughout all of this, Sauceda added a Master of Arts in educational entrepreneurship from the University of the Pacific this past summer; she plans to pursue her certifications for gifted education from UC San Diego in the spring.
Shakera Elrington, a native of Belize, joined the U.S. Air Force in 2006 and embarked upon a decade-long military career that took her to the Middle East and South Korea. She spent her last four years in medical laboratory technology, which ultimately led her to the forefront of COVID-19 testing procedures in civilian life. Elrington was instrumental in validating and introducing COVID-19 testing at several Bay Area laboratories, preemptively identifying the need for additional machines with higher capacity. Consequently, she improved testing turnaround times from two to three days to just 45 minutes. She now works at Amazon as a senior clinical lab scientist in research and development. In her spare time, she volunteers to cook for homeless veterans in Oakland.
Each year the CalVet division for Women Veterans Affairs honors all women veterans, selecting several women in various categories for recognition. Due to the pandemic, this year’s celebration will be held virtually.
“This year it was so important for our Department to continue its tradition of recognizing the outstanding achievements of our California women who have worn a military uniform, despite current challenges with in-person celebrations.” said Deputy Secretary Lindsey Sin for Women Veterans Affairs. “Consequently, we’re happy to offer an enjoyable online event and celebrate our awardees and their accomplishments.”
The virtual reception is free and open to the public. For more information about the reception and awardees, and to register for the event, please visit Women Veterans Affairs or call 916-653-1402.