By November 10, 2018 Read More →

InterView – Veteran Michael D Pelucca

InterView
Michael D. Pelucca

Each November 11, we take the time to remember, recognize and celebrate those that put their lives on the line to service our county, keeping us free for nearly 250 years. There are also those that make sure that our veterans are cared for and served every day of the year. Modesto has recently seen the addition of a full service Veterans facility, offering education, meeting spaces, events and health services. In addition to health issues, many veterans need assistance to continue their education or find employment upon re-entering civilian life and returning to their homes in Stanislaus County. A large number of veterans do not know what services are available to them – or even where to turn. Michael Pelucca was recently appointed Board Chair of the Veterans Foundation of Stanislaus County.

Mike served two tours in Vietnam as a U.S. Marine. He retired, after 38 years in education as a high school Business Education Teacher. Mike is active in the Marine Corps League, Disabled American Veterans, and the American Legion. He is also a current staff member of the annual Stanislaus County Marine Reserves Toys for Tots Campaign. Mike also tutors adults in Reading for Literacy programs. Mike is Chair of the Foundation and also Commandant of the Marine Corps League. Let’s get to know Mike and learn more about what they do.

ModestoView: What is the mission of the newly formed Veterans Service Center?
Mike Pelucca: The Veterans Foundation of Stanislaus County is committed to bringing people, organizations and resources together in time, space, and effort to effectively improve the well-being of all Stanislaus County veterans of the United States Armed Forces and their families. We entered into an agreement with Stanislaus County to create, operate, maintain and lease our 19,000 sq. ft. portion of the overall building. The Stanislaus Veteran Center located at 3500 Coffee Rd. in Modesto serve veterans, their families and many others in the community. Among services offered are the Veterans Service Office, the Area Agency on Aging, the MOVE project, HICAP insurance consultation, the Community Services Agency. Medical Care is offered by the VA Medical Clinic through VA Palo Alto Medical System.

MV: You must be passionate about the role our service people have in protecting the USA as you service two tours in Vietnam. How does this affect your new role a service provider to fellow veterans?

MP: I was injured in my second tour in Vietnam and medevac’d out and spent a year and half in the hospital. I saw firsthand what happens to many veterans, even those who never served in combat were injured and exposed to harmful unknown and dangerous chemicals and accidents. Approximately 37% of veterans eligible for benefits from the Veterans Administration (VA) are enrolled in the system. Many do not know what they are entitled to have, or how to enroll. One of our goals was provide a one stop shop for veterans and their dependents. That is one reason why we formed the Veterans Foundation of Stanislaus County (VFSC).

MV: Was it difficult to do a second tour in Vietnam?
MP: It was not difficult to serve a second tour in Vietnam. I volunteered. I returned two months after I came back from the first tour. I felt that would I better serve in Vietnam rather than states. I had experience and knowledge to help new marines coming to the war.

MV: Based on your experience, what is one of the common services that veterans require?
MP: The most common services needed by veterans, are to enroll in the VA system for benefits they are entitled to have and earned, assistance with counseling to make the transition from the military into civilian life, and finding assistance programs to help them have better life. We gather and provide information on county-wide events and resources to help veterans.

MV: It was a multi-year project to be able to develop the Veterans Service Center, what did this accomplish that hadn’t been done in the past.
MP: The Veteran Service Center provides veterans and their families to find the most needed assistance programs and socialization opportunities in one place. No driving all around town. Very soon we will be starting a morning coffee and doughnuts program in our banquet hall that holds up to 300 people seated. This will enable veterans to come in and socialize with other veterans to renew friendships and make new friends. Veterans may play cards, read, engage others in conversation. They will also be able to tell us what we can do for them at the center. Currently we hold a Senior Day Dance every Thursday beginning at 9:00 a.m. The band – Bonnie and the Back Alley Boys – provides music for dancing and enjoyment. Our volunteers make fresh sandwiches that people can purchase with chips and beverages. This program has been in place for over a year. We also have a Friday afternoon veterans and their guests at our Lounge/Bar starting at 4:30 p.m. every week. We are also setting up a library of used books and magazines for veterans to utilize.

MV: What have been some of the big successes since the Center has been open?
MP: We hold an annual Crab Feed in January and several events throughout the year. The dinner will also celebrate our WWII veterans’ with a tribute including the Johansen High Scholl musical program providing music and a presentation of the World War II era. We recently held a First responders dinner and tribute to remember the 9-11 tragedy. Many events have been held at our center Since April 2017.

MV: How can people help with this project and get involved?
MP: People wishing to help our project may volunteer to help, make donations, and come by to visit the Veterans Center. We are looking to create a museum in our lobby and hallways with items that reflect what veterans have done, and are doing, for our country. We live in a great country. They may contact us at 3500 Coffee Rd Suite 15, Modesto, 95355 or call us at 209-343-6292. Our main hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00p.m. Weekdays.

MV: Is this facility available to non-veterans, such as other community groups?
MO: The facility is available for non-veterans and other community groups to use for events or simply to visit us.

MV: What do you enjoy most about living in Modesto?
MP: I was born in Modesto and like this community and the location is near many places to reach fairly easy like the mountains and the ocean.

MV: What is something that people might not know about our Veterans?
MP: Many people may not know that Veterans’ all around our community and the country quietly work and volunteer in their community to help in many ways that help people in our country. They are unsung heroes ready to help those in need. When Veterans’ commit to assist, they follow through and sometimes go above and beyond. They are skilled and disciplined from their experiences in the military.

MV: Our signature question; Beatles or Stones ?
MP: Beatles 1st, Stones 2nd and also the Beach Boys

For more information vetsfoundation.org
3500 Coffee Rd, Ste 15 Modesto 95355
209.343.6292

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About the Author:

Chris Murphy is the President and CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group and Publisher and Founder of ModestoView Inc. Chris worked globally in the cycling industry returning to Modesto in 1996. He is also the founder of the Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route, Legends of the Cruise Walk of Fame, Modesto Rockin’ Holiday, the Modesto Music History Organization and co-founder of the Modesto Area Music Association. Chris is married to his artist wife Rebecca since 1985 and has two daughters Madison and Abigail, both graduating from Modesto High and UC Berkeley. He is lead singer and guitarist for his band, Third Party that donates their performances to non-profits.