Elk Grove Citizen

Finding a place of refuge and acceptance

February 6, 2017

By Raina LeGarreta

A conversation with U.S. Army veteran Ron Marshall is an eye-opening experience.

Marshall, a longtime Elk Grove resident, did two tours of duty in the Vietnam War and is also a retired Treasury Enforcement Agent.

He currently volunteers his time to do something that has become very near and dear to heart: helping other military veterans succeed and become well-acclimated in society.

Every month, Sen. Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) spotlights a resident in his district that has overcome hardships to pursue their dreams; Marshall was chosen as his “Unsung Hero of the Month” for January.

Marshall recently spoke to the Citizen about helping veterans via the services of the local center at which he volunteers.

“When I got back home I went back to school to get certified as a drug and alcohol counselor as well as a mental health rehabilitation tech. The Veterans Benefits Administration paid for me to get through school,” he said. “I identify with the veterans and I really enjoy working with them, which has also helped me.”

Marshall said that prior to returning to the United States from the Vietnam War in 1968 he remembers being told not to wear his uniform because of the backlash he would receive from citizens who opposed the war.

Upon kissing the ground when he arrived at the Tacoma, Washington airport, Marshall was greeted by a wave of tomatoes and eggs that were thrown at him. Experiences like these have inspired him to continue to help and encourage other veterans who return home.

Marshall’s many years of volunteering at the Sacramento Veteran’s Resource Center (SVRC) include not only helping military veterans and promoting education about Vietnam Veterans to the public - but, most of all, letting the veterans know how the SVRC can help them via their many services.

“Many people don’t know that 72 percent of the homeless veterans are Vietnam Vets, and now the VA is recognizing that. They recognized the mistakes they made with those veterans that are now in their 60s and 70s,” Marshall said. “That’s why the SVRC was established. This facility assists all veterans, many of them younger ones, to make sure that the same mistakes aren’t made with them. Most of them are dealing with addictive behavior and homelessness. The SVRC addresses these issues in much more positive ways.”

Located at 7270 East Southgate Drive in Sacramento, the SVRC is a multi-function campus and comprehensive mix of services for veterans in northern California, including employment counseling and training, supportive housing programs, a 22-bed dual diagnosis behavioral health facility that includes three meals a day for its residents, and homeless prevention services.

Marshall, who noted having battled Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and alcohol addiction upon returning from the war, said that the center helps veterans address their issues and deal with them in non-judgmental, proactive ways.

“Our culture now is much more acceptable to discussing mental health challenges than they were in the past,” he said. “When you address the behavior, the addiction will take care of itself. When you realize that you’re allowing yourself to become a victim of your past and you want to make changes, this is the first step in accepting where you are in life and where you want to go in the future. The important thing is getting to love yourself again.”

For more information on the SVRC, visit http://www.vetsresource.org/vrc-sacramento.html.