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VFW Magazine March 2018 : Page 31

ABOVE: Street signs dedicated to war veterans mark an intersection in Chula Vista, Calif. A total of 92 veterans, including many who were killed in action, have been honored by the San Diego suburb over the past 20 years. BELOW: Chula Vista, Calif., Mayor Mary Salas speaks to family members of seven Iraq and Afghanistan servicemen killed in action. A Chula Vista roadway for each veteran was dedicated at a ceremony on May 26, 2017, in Chula Vista. PHOTOS COURTESY OF STEPHEN ARENDS EMBRACING THE PROGRAM The project in the southern California city, which is home to many active-duty and retired military families, has influenced other cities in the area, such as Fallbrook and Oceanside — near Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton — to embrace the program. Now, Franklin, Tenn., is soon to be on that list. During a Franklin city meeting on Dec. 12, Arends presented the project to city officials. He said any veteran who has influence with city developers, mayors or city councils should consider starting this program in their own city. In Chula Vista, Arends said, he worked with high school teachers and students to research and write biographies for the veterans. Those biographies were pub-lished on the city’s website for the street-naming project. “This worked extremely well, and I intend to do the same thing in Franklin,” Arends said. “I’ve already got names of men killed in action going back to the War of 1812 — so, we have a lot of names to honor.” The prominence and popularity of the street names have a possibility of fading as time goes by. However, Arends hopes to combat that issue with signs that ren-der the war in which the service member died as well as the U.S. flag. Arends also hopes to duplicate the exact design used in Chula Vista for Franklin’s street proj-ect, and his goal is to have identical vet-eran street signs across the country. helped in taking the lead. “We had tremendous sup-port from Post 2111 in Chula Vista, where we started this project,” Arends said. “The same now is true in Tennessee. The feedback I’ve gotten from the city develop-ers has been great.” Army veteran Ted Ellis, commander of Post 4893, said he was in support of the idea when he first heard about it during a Post meeting last year. So did his fellow vets. “All the members agreed that it was a good idea,” said Ellis, who served in South Korea from 1963 to 1964 with the 514th Transportation Company. “We went ahead with it and presented the idea to our mayor and board of aldermen here in Franklin.” Ellis, a 43-year resident of the Nashville suburb, said the Franklin area has been “booming” in recent years and that residential areas are being built because of a population increase. He also said these types of developments are per-fect for implementing the veteran street-naming project. “I think this project keeps veterans in the mind of the public,” Ellis said. “I think anything that we can do that reminds our community what veterans have done for them is a good thing.” A VFW-LED EFFORT Last year, Arends moved to Franklin, a Nashville suburb, and wanted to bring the project he helped start in Chula Vista to his new community. For each street project, Arends said VFW Posts have INSPIRING A NEW PROJECT Arends’ actions also have inspired anoth-er veteran to do the same for his new community in Florida. Through a mutu-al friend, Arends met Jim Jazo of Bonita Springs, Fla., who is a VFW life member of Post 2791 in Tinley Park, Ill. Jazo, a former executive director of the Veterans Outreach Program in Chicago, moved from Illinois to Florida about three years ago. “After hearing about this program, I thought to myself, ‘This is right up my alley,’” said Jazo, a Vietnam War Army veteran who was stationed in Long Binh in 1970-71 with C Company of the 87th Infantry attached to Army Support Command, Saigon. “I was in Florida for a few years and couldn’t seem to connect with anything workwise. I thought this was the perfect thing to do, because I really enjoy work-ing for veterans.” Jazo said the idea still is in the begin-ning stages, but he plans to start working towards having the project implemented in his community as soon as possible. “I’m just working towards trying to make a good presentation for this,” Jazo said. “I think there is a lot of poten-tial here to make this program happen in Florida.” J EMAIL • Army Staff Sgt. Kristofferson Lorenzo, 33, in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, in 2011. • Army Sgt. Michael Martinez, 24, in Baghdad in 2007. • Army Staff Sgt. Joshua Mattero, 29, northeast of Baghdad in 2007. • Army Spc. Curtis Spivey, 25, died in 2007 of wounds suffered in Baghdad in 2006. • Army Sgt. Charles Wyckoff Jr., 28, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan in 2007. MARCH 2018   • WWW.VFW.ORG • 31

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