Category History

FORMER CALVET UNDERSECRETARY UMBERG HELPED MAKE HISTORY AS ARMY’S CULTURE INVOLVING WOMEN BEGAN TO CHANGE IN 1970’s

As we continue to celebrate Women’s History Month, the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) can look in its own storied history to find women who have made great contributions in the military, and to the agency itself. Retired Brigadier General Robin Umberg is one of them. She broke ground for other women in the […]

AWARD-WINNING VETERANS CEMETERY AT SEASIDE BREAKING GROUND ON EXPANSION THAT WILL OFFER IN-GROUND BURIALS

SEASIDE – Since the California Central Coast Veterans Cemetery opened in 2016, only the columbaria for cremains has been available at the 79-acre property that once was part of the Fort Ord Army base. That will change in 2021, when Phase II is completed and in-ground burials can begin at the cemetery operated by the […]

COLD NIGHT IN FRANCE BEGAN MEDICAL, MILITARY MARCH ACROSS EUROPE IN WWII FOR ARMY NURSE, NOW 100

FRESNO – In the fall of 1944, just a few months after the Normandy invasion, Jane Boote endured a night she’s never forgotten. “That first night in France was the coldest night of my life,” the 100-year-old Army veteran and career nurse recalled. “The GIs thought they were doing us a favor by giving us […]

HOSPITAL AT CALIFORNIA ARMY BASE HONORS ONLY WOMAN TO RECEIVE MEDAL OF HONOR

At Fort Irwin, in California’s Mojave Desert, the Dr. Mary E. Walker Center is an administrative building that is part of the Weed Army Community Hospital system. The hospital system serves a military and civilian population of nearly 10,000. One day each December, hundreds of soldiers from Fort Irwin’s 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment march up […]

PIONEER, TRAILBLAZER: VIRGINIA MAE DAYS WAS ONE OF A KIND AS CALVET DIRECTOR

NOTE: As we honor women veterans during Women’s History Month, CalVet remembers one of its own. The late Virginia Mae Days served as CalVet’s director from 1975-81, retiring more than a decade before CalVet became a cabinet level department headed by a secretary. Her story, published on CalVet Connect last fall, bears repeating. In a […]

THE CHALLENGE OF UNDERSTANDING CHALLENGE COINS

Appreciation comes in many forms: plaques, letters, gifts, or handshakes, to name a few. However, the military adheres to a different, but unofficial way of honoring their members with proof of affiliation: the challenge coin. Although there are many versions of the challenge coin’s history, the apparent truth is they are passed from a ranking […]

COLONEL IRMA COOPER DEFIED THE ODDS

A leader throughout her long and distinguished military career, CalVet turns to Irma Hagans Cooper Colonel (retired) to take us across the bridge from Black History Month to Women’s History Month. The Los Angeles resident spent 30 years in the Army, much of it running medical facilities and commanding companies that went on to serve […]

LISA DANIELS LIVES TO TELL STORIES OF AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE MILITARY

February is Black History Month, a time to highlight the contributions and achievements made by African Americans throughout history. But it’s an easy leap to say that for Lisa Daniels of Sacramento, every month is Black History Month and to go one step beyond: Every day is Black History Day. Daniels turned what began as […]

VETERAN HOMES ARCHITECT LARRY SILLMAN LEAVES LEGACY OF CREATIVITY AND COMFORT

Architect Larry Sillman might be easing into retirement, but he leaves his footprints and blueprints all over the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) Veterans Homes of California (VHC) system. The 75-year-old Vietnam veteran from Chula Vista designed four of the eight homes operated by CalVet. He also played a role in the creation of […]

BUFFALO SOLDIERS ONCE PROTECTED YOSEMITE AND SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARKS

As Black History Month continues, CalVet recognizes the African American “Buffalo Soldiers” who once protected Yosemite and Sequoia national parks in the central Sierra in the years before the national parks systems was established in 1916. One day many summers ago, Yosemite Park Ranger and Historian Shelton Johnson had just finished his portrayal of a […]