LOS ALAMITOS – Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) was awarded a Medal of Merit today by Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin, adjutant general for the California National Guard, at a ceremony hosted at the National Guard’s Sunburst Youth Academy in Los Alamitos. The Charles Dick Medal of Merit Award is given by the National Guard Association of the United States to state and nationally elected officials who have shown a commitment to supporting the National Guard, its members and their families.
“I am deeply honored to receive the Medal of Merit Award from the National Guard,” said Speaker John A. Pérez. “Our most basic obligation as citizens is to stand up for the men and women who have served our nation in the military, and I have been very grateful for the opportunity to work with the California National Guard on ensuring California’s veterans have access to jobs, healthcare and support services they deserve.”
“I was delighted to tour the Sunburst Youth Academy, and to spend some time with the bright and talented young men and women there. This academy is a shining example of the ways the National Guard enriches our state and gives back to our communities,” added Speaker Pérez.
“Speaker Perez has been a relentless champion of the California National Guard,” said Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin. “His support of our employment and behavioral health initiatives is unparalleled in the Assembly. He’s fully deserving of this honor.”
In April, Speaker Pérez announced a $500,000 Assembly grant to fund the National Guard’s “Work for Warriors” pilot program, which places National Guard members with jobs, striving to reduce the unemployment rate in the California National Guard by 25 percent in the first year.
The Speaker also provided two $300,000 grants to the California Military Department for mental health services, which gave the California National Guard more resources to better support their members.
The Sunburst Youth Academy is a community high school in Los Alamitos run by the California National Guard with the Orange County Department of Education. The Academy’s 26 week military style program is a part of the National Guard’s ChalleNGe programs, which strives to get at-risk youth focused and back on track in school and prepare them for the workforce. Sunburst Youth Academy has the highest retention rate in the nation, 95 percent, for the ChalleNGe programs, and it was the first to reach an equal male to female student ratio. There are currently 201 cadets at the Academy, the largest class to date.
The Charles Dick Medal of Merit Award is the second award recently given to the Speaker for his work supporting veterans. Last Monday, the Vietnam Veterans of America, California State Council, named Speaker Pérez as the California Assembly Legislator of the Year for his commitment to supporting veterans with programs such as “Work for Warriors” and CalVet Connection, which helps veterans more efficiently obtain their benefits.
Website of Speaker John A. Pérez: www.asmdc.org/speaker