Palm Desert, CA
Veterans are being recognized this weekend at the Cal State San Bernardino campus in Palm Desert.
The inaugural event — called Veteran’s University and sponsored by Rep. Raul Ruiz (D) — is helping our local heroes find resources after their service.
James Miller’s draft number was 3. So when the U.S. entered the Vietnam War, he knew he’d be going.
He served in the Navy and returned, learning some decades later that he earned medals for his service.
What he didn’t know was the lengthy process he’d endure to receive those medals.
"It was very frustrating for 4 years to try to obtain medals that I really didn’t know I deserved until I did some research," Miller says. "It shouldn’t be that hard for veterans i think… If they earned medals, they should get them…"
Miller contacted Elena Kim, an Army vet herself, and a Field Rep for Congressman Raul Ruiz. "Within 3 weeks she got it done," Miller says of Kim’s work getting his paper work submitted and approved. "It gives you faith in that office and makes you feel like you have an elected official that cares about you."
Miller says receiving the medals bridges gaps between generations. "It reminds me of when I was a child and my dad would talk to me about WWII and it’s so far away," Miller says. "And that’s kind of what Vietnam is for the kids today, it’s so long ago but it gave me the opportunity to break out the memorabilia to look at the see pictures I’d forgotten all about. It’s been a lot of fun."
His ceremony came on Day 2 of Veteran’s University, sponsored by Congressman Ruiz.
"I think it’s a great bridge because today we’re talking mental health, the veterans that came from Vietnam, we didn’t have a clear understanding of what PTSD was," Rep. Ruiz says. "Nonetheless having the services and the treatment that’s available today."
"Now-a-days America is very receptive to it’s veterans and it’s good to see," agrees Miller. "I think it’s good that they find out there’s services for them and today they’re talking about mental health and that’s good. A lot of these guys have head noise from being in Vietnam."
Ruiz says the University’s mission is to educate veterans and the community about the services and help they need.
"And say thank you to our Vietnam veterans and any veteran in our nation so that we can elevate their courage, their honor and their dignity in our country and that’s what Veteran’s University is about, that’s why we’re here," Rep. Ruiz says.