Bill Gonzalez, U. S. Army Veteran and Board Member of Central Valley Veterans, was named the Red Cross Military/Veteran Hero.
The awards event, which was held on Aug. 31 in Fresno, recognizes military service veterans whose life saving actions go above and beyond the call of duty.
Gonzalez said he loves helping veterans because he remembers how difficult it was to adjust to civilian life after coming back from the Vietnam War.
“I’m not doing this for the recognition,” he said. “A lot of this kids that are coming back can’t get back to society. The government trains you how to do things, but when you exit from the service, they don’t give you any training to get back into society.”
Gonzalez also received acknowledgements from Congress Members and Fresno City Council members.
“These kids do two or three tours, then they come back. They get on the drugs, they get into alcohol and it’s just hard for them to get back into society,” Gonzalez said. “This is why our suicide rate is so high. They get into that stage of depression.”
Gonzalez has been working with veterans in the Central Valley for over eight years. He takes part in several events, including the Warriors on the Lake event and the four-day Stand Down, where he cooks for those attending.
“The CVV is a nonprofit organization dealing with veterans,” Gonzalez said. “If [veterans] are behind in their PG&E, they call us and we pay their PG&E. Or they need a tire for their car or they need books for school or they’re out of groceries. We can help them.”
Gonzalez has organized the Thanksgiving Meal give away for those veterans, reserve, guard and active duty members that are in need.
He coordinates the donations of food items, recipients, volunteers and delivery of food boxes. Then he turns around a couple of weeks later and does it again for Christmas Meals and gifts for children.
When CVV purchased the “Hospitality House” two years ago, Gonzalez led the remodels and improvements that were needed. He acts as a property manager while there are veterans stay at the home.