Veteran’s Day at Hillcrest Park Fullerton 2023

Speaker: Peter Seitz, LTC, California National Guard (Ret.)

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

It is a pleasure for me to be here on Veterans Day, and I want to thank you for the invitation. My name is Pete Seitz, and it is a pleasure to be here on this special day.

To give you a little background on me, I spent six years in the United States Marine Corps as a CH-46 helicopter pilot and another 22 years in the Army Guard, flying a variety of helicopters.

But before I begin my comments, do we have any veterans or prior military service members here? Please stand up so we can thank you. Also, how many wives of soldiers or veterans are here? Please stand also, as you deserve our thanks for supporting our veterans.

I would also like to point out a special person who is the wife of a veteran and the mother of an Army Captain who has supported me for 51 years, 11 months, and 11 days … my wife Carol.

Every year, we celebrate three events regarding our military.

  • The first is Armed Forces Day, where we honor those currently wearing the uniform.
  • The second is Veteran’s Day, honoring those who have worn the uniform.
  • And the final, most solemn day is Memorial Day, where we honor those who have died wearing the uniform.

The one commonality among these three days is that all being honored represents someone who signed a blank check made payable to the United States of America for an amount up to and including his or her life. This is a simple fact that too many people in this country no longer understand. The price of wearing the uniform is high, and we should never forget it.

Today, we honor and celebrate Veteran’s Day. To give you a little history, Veteran’s Day was originally known as Armistice Day after WWI. World War I ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, which determined the date. After World War II and the Korean War and due to the urging of major veteran organizations, Armistice Day was renamed Veteran’s Day in 1954. That was the right thing to do as it brings attention to all our veterans.

Veterans are a key part of our society, but most people know little about those who are struggling. So, here is some information about veterans. The veteran population in California is around 1.3 million, and there are estimated to be 100,000 veterans in Orange County, the 4th largest in the state. Most of them are well-adjusted and leading productive lives, but still, too many are struggling to get their lives back to normal.

We have all heard the phrases homeless veterans, PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and TBI or Traumatic brain injury. These have become common references in discussions regarding veterans. For the veterans struggling with these, it is much more than a phrase … it is a life-altering affliction not only for the individual but for their families … mothers, fathers, wives, and children. Regarding homeless veterans, California leads the nation.

Though there is no hard, actual number, it is estimated that there are over 4,000 homeless veterans in the greater Los Angeles basin, and over 200 are in Orange County. It is difficult to get an accurate number as most live in the shadows and are unknown. These struggling veterans deserve our help and support for their service to our country. What we do know is that many are over the age of 55, and their number has gone up compared to a year ago.

Currently, several initiatives are working to resolve veteran homelessness, but this is not the only area where veterans need assistance. So, the question is, “What can we do to help these veterans?” And what kind of help and support do they need? Let me try and provide some insight into that_ question.

First, every veteran is different, and their specific needs reflect that difference, but here are several major areas:

1. Employment -this provides the income to survive.
2. Housing -you cannot get ahead when you are homeless.
3. Health & Behavioral Counseling -dealing with and overcoming their “demons.”
4. Education -getting a college education, learning a new skill, or trade for employment.
5. Legal -assistance in dealing with VA claims or legal needs.
6. Family Issues -resolving crises and providing a positive environment for families and children to live in.
7. Faith-based -ensuring a spiritual connection to help recover.
The good news is that the awareness of these problems with our veterans is growing, and many groups are focused on their needs. I will not attempt to name all of them. Still, several that I want to mention:
  • Veterans Legal Institute, which provides pro bono legal services to soldiers and veterans
  • Orange County Veterans and Military Families Collaborative, which assists in the areas I mentioned above
I would encourage all of you to get involved, as you can make a difference.
Often, just being there for a veteran makes an enormous difference, and I would like to share a special instance. I have an older brother, Bob, a retired Army COL. Bob lived in the Washington, DC, area and made weekly visits to Walter Reed Hospital to visit and assist wounded soldiers. Bob was in the 101st Airborne Division, and one of the soldiers he visited had lost his left arm above the elbow and his left leg above the knee. During some of his visits, the soldier did not want to talk, so Bob just sat in the room and read a newspaper … being there in case the need presented itself. Bob ran into that soldier at an event in Washington DC several years later, and the soldier recognized him, hugged him, thanked him for being there during his recovery, and told him what a difference he had made in helping him recover. The name of that soldier is Noah Galloway.
Many might remember Noah, who placed 3rd in the 2015 Dancing with the Stars television program and is now a successful motivational speaker. Now, I cannot say Bob was the reason for Noah’s recovery and success, but I must believe his “being there” made a positive difference. Sometimes, it is the little things that make a significant difference.
We often hear the phrase “Thank You for your Service,” and that is appreciated, but we need to do more. We can all be effective if we give a little extra of ourselves, so I would encourage everyone to ask yourselves, what can I do to support our veterans? Get involved with a group or organization that supports veterans or donates to their operation … there are plenty that could use your support. Some of those groups are:
  • Veterans Legal Institute
  • Heroes Linked
  • Patriots and Paws
  • 1st and Goal … to name a few.
Find the right one for you. While we can never do enough for our veterans and their loved ones, we can always do more. It has been a pleasure to speak to you today, and I sincerely appreciate all of you who have served. I would like to leave you with a final comment that President Barack Obama made on Veteran’s Day in 2016.
“On Veteran’s Day, we acknowledge humbly we can never serve our veterans in quite the same way they served us, but we can try.”
Let us all try to do what we can, and let us make a difference. Thank you, God bless you, and God bless this great country.


Master of Ceremonies: Allen Stubblefield, CDR, USN (Ret,) 3rd Vice Commander, AL Post 142

Recognition of POW/MIAs: Mariann Aita, Chaplain, Fullerton Emblem Club #469

*National Anthem______ Kristen Romero, Soloist

*Pledge of Allegiance_______ Sandy Pena, President, Fullerton Emblem Club #469

*Prayer_______ Mariann Aita, Chaplain, Fullerton Emblem Club #469

*Gun Salute by Fullerton Police Honor Guard

  • Led by Lt Tony Bogart, Sgt Billy Phu,
  • Corporals: Lloyd Bouchet, Brian Franco, Kevin Pedrosa, and Officers: Marcus Futch, Josh Riley, Eric Dominguez


*Closing Prayer David Meitzler, SFC, USA (Ret.), AL Post 142 Chaplain

Veterans Day Committee Organizations:

  • Fullerton American Legion Post 142
  • Marilyn Harris, Commander, Fullerton Emblem Club #469
  • Sandy Pena, President
  • Sound provided by: Kip Hyams; Great Productions
  • Officer of the Day: Jeff Harris
  • Assistants: Bruce Anderson, Alan Wiles, Gary Poggensee, Jeanne Poggensee

The Committee extends its appreciation to these additional participants who contributed to the success of this event: Fullerton American Legion Commander’s Club:

  • Founder Mr. William McGarvey Jr. Able Wagner Inc.
  • Bridgford Foods Corporation
  • Credit Union of Southern California
  • Fullerton Emblem Club #469
  • Loma Vista Memorial Park
  • McAulay & Wallace Mortuary
  • Mike & Cyndee Albertson
  • Eric & Carol Day
  • Hal & Marcia Dixon
  • Minard Duncan
  • Don & Terry Dutton
  • Bill & Carolyn Gillespie
  • Richard & Karla Green
  • Miles Kaspar Jr.
  • Arty & Carole King
  • Patrick & Ann McGarvey
  • David & Gloria Meitzler
  • Jeff & Marilyn Harris
  • Robert & Karen Jacobs
  • Mark & Cathy McGee
  • Ed & Pansy Paul
  • Gary & Jeanne Poggensee
  • Neil Reich
  • Larry & Marie Sears
  • Allen & Kim Stubblefield Other Organizations:
  • Fullerton Police Department
  • Fullerton Fire Department
  • Fullerton City Manager’s Office
  • Fullerton Public Works
  • Fullerton Parks & Recreation
  • Fullerton Community & Economic Development Fullerton Elks Lodge No. 1993
  • RAZ Party Rentals
  • Motographix, Inc.
  • Ralph’s, Hillcrest Park Center
  • MUMS the WORD, Florist


Photos by Gaston Castellanos

Photos by Saskia Kennedy Below

Photos by Saskia Kennedy

Categories: Education, Health, History, Local Events, Local Government, Local News

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