In Tempe, we have so many examples of veterans giving back to our community to enrich our quality of life. They continue to serve and it motivates me to honor them.
Joe Spracale is one of those veterans who leads the way. He’s devoted his life to community service. As an educator, councilmember and founder of the Tempe Impacts Education Foundation, Joe has been a tireless advocate for improving the lives of children and families.
For several years, a dedicated, local group of veterans has been committed to preserving the history of veterans through the Veterans History Project.
This program at the Tempe History Museum documents real stories of military veterans’ experiences to be shared with others so they can better understand the realities of war and the sacrifices made for American liberty.
Soon, James Grone, who’s been producing the Tempe Veterans’ Day Parade for 37 years, will be walking down Mill Avenue with hundreds of students, marching bands and community members recognizing our veterans.
His dedication and commitment to organizing the event and raising funds is heroic. The parade, in its 70th year, contributes so much to our community as a living monument to those who’ve proudly worn the uniforms of our nation’s military. It gives us a sense of pride and allows younger generations of Tempeans to appreciate the history of national service.
Then there’s Joanna Sweatt.
She’s brought us an exceptional workforce development program for veterans called “Four Block.”
This career readiness program creates a supportive learning environment that has proven to lower the unemployment rate of veterans. The program operates at the Tempe Public Library’s Business Resource and Innovation Center.
We also have a great Veterans Commission led by former soldiers Keith Finkle and Michelle Bravo. These Army veterans, along with several other veterans and veteran service providers, have distinguished themselves in working with our Human Services Department and CARE 7 to offer social services support through the East Valley Veterans Education Center.
This partnership with the EVVEC has grown to make it the city’s one stop for veteran services in education, employment, and health and wellness.
As a veteran myself, I’m proud to serve the community alongside the more than 150 veterans who work for the city. Some of the accomplishments the city has realized in supporting our military and veterans include:
Valor on Eighth – This new veterans’ housing development, on city-donated land, is scheduled to be completed by December, with the first families calling it home in January. These 50 units are the result of a partnership the city made with the Arizona Department of Housing, Save the Family Foundation, and Gorman & Company.
Veteran Supportive City – Tempe was the first city in Arizona to receive this recognition from the Governor’s Office.
Veterans Commission – Tempe established this commission to advocate for policies and programs important to our city’s veterans.
East Valley Veterans Education Center – Tempe collaborated with Maricopa County Community Colleges and other partners to create this center to be the one-stop place for veterans’ services.
Community Salutes – this special recognition ceremony honors future military service members and their families.
As the stories above illustrate, veterans from all walks of life and backgrounds continue to serve in a variety of ways. So as Veterans’ Day approaches, let’s remember we’re all Americans and take time to honor and thank the veterans who have served our nation and continue to serve our community.