18th Annual Heroes Patriotic Luncheon

VMLC hosts virtual luncheon to honor military, veterans

The Veterans Medical Leadership Council hosted its 18th Annual Heroes Patriotic Luncheon on Nov. 5. The virtual event, presented by GlobalMed, was chaired by George Bliss, owner of Bliss Realty and Investments. The annual luncheon celebrates veterans and military service members who have and continue to “stand in the gap,” defending our liberty and freedom. This year’s theme was “Uncertainty; A Veteran Perspective,” which was appropriate given the climate created by the global pandemic.

“The VMLC is a nonprofit organization composed of veterans who volunteer their time to help our comrades that have fallen on hard times,” explained Tom Eisiminger, VMLC president. “Through our Returning Warrior program, we provide emergency financial assistance to veterans who need help with housing, utilities and vehicle repair. Thanks to donors who care about our veterans, we have been fortunate to provide close to $3 million to assist our heroes in need over the years. More recently, we are helping veterans within the Navajo Nation with COVID-19 relief, providing 300-gallon water tanks so that veterans in remote areas have water for bathing and cooking. We also agreed to sponsor the first group of Maricopa County veterans with Post Traumatic Stress to attend the WarriorPath training at Boulder Crest in Sonoita, Arizona.”

Sam Young, VMCL immediate past president

This year’s keynote speaker was Charlie Plumb, Captain USN (Ret), Vietnam veteran, and six-year prisoner of war. Captain Charlie Plumb graduated from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. He became a fighter pilot, flying the F-4 phantom jet and accomplished 74 successful combat missions over Vietnam. On his 75th mission, just five days before the end of his tour in 1967, Plumb was shot down, captured, tortured and imprisoned. As a POW, he spent more than 2,000 days as a prisoner in communist war prisons. Plumb shared his story and the lessons he learned about dealing with uncertainty.

During the event, Sam Young, VMLC immediate past president and longtime member of the Veterans Medical Leadership Council, was presented an award his years of dedication to VMLC and veterans.

Glenn Kasprzyk, vice president of operations and chief operations officer of American Medical Response, served as this year’s honorary luncheon chairman. The Brigadier General Tom Browning Community Heroes Award was presented to Molly Stockley on behalf of Cancer Treatment Centers of America for its continued support of veterans and the VMLC.

Special recognition was given to the following honorees for their selfless devotion to our country:

  • Roger Engelbrecht     USN                World War II
  • Frank (Joel) Miller      USAF              Korea
  • Billy Lamar Ward       Army               Vietnam
  • Lynn Bennett              USNR             Cold War
  • Ezgar “EZ” Del Real USN/USMC    Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq)
  • Scott Ford                   Army               Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan)

    Eagle award presented to Sam Young, former VMLC president

    Vietnam veteran Billy Lamar Ward with Thom Meaker

    Tom Eisiminger with George Bliss, luncheon chair

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