SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Shirley N. Weber (D-San Diego) has named Retired Marine Staff Sergeant Kenneth Collier as her 2016 “Veteran of the Year”.
“Mr. Collier has had an exemplary career of service both as a US Marine and as an educator dedicated to reaching out to recruit minorities into the building trades,” Weber said.
Collier was honored today along with veterans from across the state at a luncheon in Sacramento.
Having completed his high school coursework early, Collier enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at 17.
“I was shipped off to boot camp at Marine Corps Recruiting Depot Parris Island in South Carolina,” Collier said. “This is nicknamed ‘The Land That God Forgot’!
In 1982, he was deployed to Lebanon as part of a multi-national peacekeeping force. His subsequent assignment took him to Okinawa and Iwakuni, Japan; Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; and Camp Pendleton, California. During his service career, Collier earned a Navy Unit Commendation, the National Defense Service Medal, the Good Conduct Medal and an Expert Rifleman Badge. He was honorably discharged in 1995 after 14 years of service.
“At 31, I had to start my life all over again,” he said.
Collier signed up for the 5-year apprenticeship program at the Electrical Training Center run by the International Brother of Electrical Workers in San Diego. After graduating with honors, Colliers decided to give back by teaching in the program, a job he’s enthusiastically embraced for the last 15 years.
“I enjoy all the recruit outreach we do to recruit apprentices,” he said, “These are solid good-paying careers.”
“Whatever our background, we all deserve a chance to have a piece of the American Dream”