Awards and Appreciation

CDCR, CCHCS staff salute veterans

Across the state, CDCR and CCHCS staff thanked veterans for their service, observing Veterans Day with celebrations, food and ceremonies. The following are just some example of staff honoring veterans.

In appreciation of all veterans

As we reflect on the service of America’s Armed Forces this Veterans Day, I ask all California Department of Corrections (CDCR) and California Correctional Health Care Services (CCHCS) employees to take a moment to express special gratitude to the Veterans who work for this great Department.

These individuals not only put themselves at risk and sacrificed so much for their country, they also signed up to serve the greater good by joining the Corrections profession. Veterans are represented in every classification within our Department, and they provide a wealth of experience to their positions that cannot be replicated. Veterans come to this Department with a keen sense of duty, discipline, organization, and strong work ethic, combined with a true understanding of what it means to be on a team. Corrections would not be the same without you and I am honored to work with each and every one of you.

Corrections is a demanding profession. Your duties have taken you away from your families, holidays, celebrations, and other life milestones. To have made these sacrifices both in your military service and now in Corrections is deserving of immense gratitude from all Californians and Americans, including myself. Thank you to you and your families for everything you do to make this state great.

Each day, the Veterans who work in CDCR and CCHCS serve as role models for their co-workers, community members, and the incarcerated population. I certainly look up to you, and have the utmost respect for your service, past and present.

I am honored and humbled to lead an organization that employs many Veterans and values their contributions. Please accept my deepest gratitude to you and your families for your continued service, on Veterans Day and every day.

With gratitude,
CDCR Secretary

Special video tribute to CDCR, CCHCS veterans

Thank you to CDCR and CCHCS staff who have served their country and the people of the State of California. We dedicate this Veteran’s Day tribute to you, thank you for service.

See the video on YouTube.

Pelican Bay, the northernmost California prison, flies special flag

Pelican Bay prison correctional officer and flag.
A flag that accompanied John Barker on combat patrols in Iraq was flown over Pelican Bay State Prison.

Pelican Bay State Prison observed Veterans Day with the ceremonial flying of an American flag that saw combat in Iraq.

Correctional Officer John Barker, who served in Iraq, loaned his flag to the prison.

“While deployed in Baghdad, Iraq, in 2005, our unit relieved the 7th Calvary in Karradah. During a briefing, I noticed the flag in a drawer, and asked why the flag wasn’t flying in front of Forward Operating Base Falcon,” Barker said. “I was told that the Base Commander had ordered it lowered.”

Believing the flag should be shown more respect, he was granted permission to take the flag. He not only took it, but that flag went on every combat patrol he was assigned for the rest of his deployment.

Once home, Barker displayed it at his National Guard Unit until his 2010 military retirement. That’s also when he began his CDCR career. During his graduation week from the academy, Barker asked to have it raised and it was.

Barker thanked the department as a whole.

“I am honored to raise it for the week here at Pelican Bay State Prison, during the week of Veterans Day and the Marine Corps Birthday,” Barker said.

Pelican Bay staff offered special thanks to Officer Barker and all veterans throughout CDCR.

Submitted by Lt. Kenny Price.

Avenal prison steps up to thank veterans

This year Avenal State Prison (ASP) instituted some new traditions to show respect for its veterans.

ASP started in early September asking staff for their military photographs to display them on the internal website for all staff to view. The response from staff from all disciplines, willing to share their military photos, was inspiring.

Secondly, flags from the various branches will be displayed for the entire month of November at staff entrances, in addition to banners thanking our veterans for their service.

On November 10, ASP held its first Veterans Run. The event was preceded with the Avenal High School Band performing the battle hymns of the different military branches.

Nearly 30 staff participated by jogging or walking two miles around the outside of the institution. Immediately following the run, a presentation from the ASP Color Guard took place at the flag pole.

The Avenal High School Band played the National Anthem. Afterward, acting Warden Martin Gamboa and CEO Jaron Nash spoke to the gathering. They thanked veterans for their service and dedication to our Department as well as our country. The celebration wrapped up with our annual Marine Corps birthday cake cutting ceremony.

Submitted by Lt. James Campbell.

Pleasant Valley State Prison employees honor veterans

Pleasant Valley prison sign welcomes veterans for a luncheon.
Pleasant Valley State Prison honored veterans with a special ceremony and lunch.

Honoring all veterans, a Pleasant Valley State Prison (PVSP) celebration began on the Warden’s Lawn with a flag-raising ceremony by the Honor Guard.

Honor guard members include:

  • Sergeant M. Banks
  • Correctional Officer (CO) M. Salaz-Diaz
  • CO S. Chan
  • CO R. Kim
  • CO A. Otto
  • CO M. Brown

Following the National Anthem, Chaplain A. Zamudio, an Army veteran, offered the invocation prayer followed by a moment of silence. A silent-moment request was announced through the entire institution, allowing everyone to reflect on the sacrifice and gratitude owed to service members.

Acting Warden R. Godwin spoke to the audience about the sacrifices made by our service members and how grateful we all are for their service to our country.

“On Thursday, November 11, 2021, please do not forget to celebrate those who have served this great nation and have set the foundation for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” he said. “If you are a veteran, I personally implore you to demonstrate the core values you have learned during your service. Although each military branch have a distinct set of core values, characteristics like Honor, Courage, Commitment, Duty, Integrity, Service before Self, and Excellence have been ingrained in you. It is incumbent on you to continue to ensure our personal and professional lives reflect our service.”

Next, the Community Resource Office challenged those in attendance to be a part of the gratitude letter writing campaign running until December 1. The effort allows service members to receive messages of appreciation and encouragement.

Chaplain Nour, a Navy veteran, spoke of the many paths to military service and acknowledged “the personal changes rote by service.”

The benediction prayer by Chaplain Long was offered at end of the event. Later, veterans attended a celebratory luncheon hosted by the Employee Action Committee (EAC).

“Growing up in a military family and having active service members in my family, I understand first-hand the dedication, sacrifice and heart of our military,” said EAC President Bobbie Shimmin. “I’m proud that our EAC members could honor our veterans.” The luncheon was designed as either a grab-and-go for those returning to work or an opportunity to gather, enjoy a meal and fellowship with other veterans.

In all, organizers said the event was a success.

To learn more about sending letters to service members, visit the A Million Thanks website.

Submitted by Lt. Michelle Wilson.

SATF thanks veterans for their service

Substance Abuse Treatment Facility took the extra steps to thank veterans who work at the institution.

This year’s Veterans Day, Warden Theresa Cisneros and Chief Deputy Stephen Smith, a US Army veteran, wanted to thank all of those who served and sacrificed.

At the front entrance, flags from all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces were flown along with a banner thanking veterans.

All staff were encouraged to wear red colored undershirts all week to honor those who have served and are currently serving.

On November 10, veterans were honored by a presentation from SATF Honor Guard. Senior Librarian Velva Hampson also sang the National Anthem.

Following the more formal observation, veterans were treated to a cake celebration featuring a Veterans Day photo backdrop. SATF Television Specialist Robert Hensley, a veteran of the U.S. Army and California Army National Guard, was available to take photos of the veterans.

After the presentation, Warden Cisneros and Chief Deputy Warden Smith spoke to staff in attendance and expressed their gratitude to all of them, as well as their families, for their sacrifices.

Submitted by Lt. Brent Urban.

Compiled by Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor.

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