Assemblyman Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, has selected Vietnam veteran R.J. Kelly to represent the 38th Assembly District during the 2013 Veterans Recognition Ceremony in Sacramento.
“It gives me great pleasure to honor R.J. for his dedication and service to our country,’” said Wilk, “Our service men and women are the absolute backbone of our country and I’m proud R.J. Kelly is a member of our community.”
Kelly graduated from El Monte High School in 1966 and joined the Marines later that year.
In 1967 Kelly was stationed in Vietnam for his first tour of duty where he went on to earn a Purple Heart, an honor only bestowed in the name of the President of the United States.
“I did a couple of tours in Vietnam, I got injured in Vietnam, and I came home and recovered,” Kelly said.
Kelly has been active in several veterans organizations since retiring from the Marine Corps., one is the Veterans Advocacy Network, which he is president and founder of.
“Through our advocacy network we’re advocating for health benefits, and rights to things that veterans don’t know they can get free service on,” Kelly said.
Kelly is also the founder of the Canyon Country Chapter of Disabled American Veterans.
“What I’ve learned through my injuries and disabilities is the need veterans with disabilities have and how they can obtain benefits from them,” Kelly said.
Kelly’s other involvements include organizations such as: Veterans of Foreign Wars; Committee for Employers of Disabled Individuals; Castaic Lake Water Agency Board of Directors; and the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity.
“I want to make sure that our vets that are in service now and come home from the warzone are knowledgeable about what’s available to them,” Kelly said.
The award by the assembly was a combination of dedication for service but also for volunteering within the assembly district for Veterans, according to Kelly.
“I was very pleased and very surprised, we have a lot of great veterans in community, and I think one reason I was chosen is that I did diversify my efforts to help,” Kelly said.
– David Mariuz