Welcome to VANC’s SoCal Military News and Views podcast! Each week, your host, Mike Walsh, speaks with active-duty military members, veterans, and citizens who support our military, so that you can hear their stories as they serve our country and support those who do.
In the pilot episode, Mike speaks with VANC’s Executive Director, Lori Boody, and our podcast sponsor, John Sanders from the Sanders Tech-Ed Foundation. Together, they talk about how VANC began, the ways it serves active-duty military, veterans, and their families, and how the organization is positively impacting the community through its certification courses, resources, events, and more.
Rather listen to the episode? Click here.
VANC: Being a Base For the Military Community
VANC was founded by three-branch veteran, Chuck Atkinson, who wanted to create a central organization that provides services to active-duty military members and veterans. His goal was to support those at Camp Pendleton—which is the base for over 54,000 active military members and their families—and the 77,000 retirees who live within a 50-mile radius of the base. He spoke with leaders in the city of Oceanside, and they offered to lease the former police department building. With $300 in his pocket, Chuck signed the lease and began establishing the organization. In the next two years, he, with the help of volunteers from the community, raised $1.4 million to create the beautiful facility that people see today.
Now, VANC is an umbrella organization for multiple veteran’s organizations and Friends of VANC, such as the American Legion Post 760, Women Marines Association, Buffalo Soldiers, Team Rubicon, the Marine Corps League, and more. True to Chuck’s mission, VANC has become a one-stop resource center, training facility, and community event space. The organization assists those in the military community with jobs, education, finances, health, wellness, and more.
Certainly, success is hard to achieve without an outstanding team, which is why people like Lori Boody, John Sanders, and the countless volunteers are invaluable. Lori Boody, the current executive director of VANC, jumped right in to help at a VANC event almost a decade ago, and, as they say, the rest is history. Shortly after she accepted her position with VANC, she became connected with John Sanders at an event, and, as she spoke about her new role, John immediately asked what they needed. Lori’s response was simple: “Funding.”
John Sanders’ passion for the military and this nation was ignited during his CIA career. Now, he is utilizing his retirement to give back to those who serve this nation by supporting VANC and sponsoring VANC’s SoCal Military News and Views podcast through his foundation, the Sanders Tech-Ed Foundation.
None of what VANC does would be possible without the help of the countless volunteers, who invest their time, money, and resources to help this organization provide a variety of services.
VANC offers many free training programs to those in the military community. One such offering is the “Vets Beyond The Uniform” program that offers coaching, training, and mentoring to active-duty military members and veterans, so they can succeed in the civilian workforce. With over 200 classroom courses and over 130 self-paced, online courses, people can choose a course that fits their needs and equips them with specific, functional skills in different fields, such as cybersecurity, fiber optics, and more.
One of the most unique courses VANC provides is its Culinary Prep Cook Class, which is taught in VANC’s commercial kitchen. In fact, this past September, VANC offered an opportunity for active-duty field cooks to be trained by MasterChef, Dino Luciano.
Serving Those Who Serve Our Nation During COVID & Beyond
When COVID hit and things shut down on March 16th, 2020, VANC was listed as an essential business. The VA and Camp Pendleton shut down, as well as San Diego County, Riverside County, and Orange County. VANC was the only facility open for the military community in three counties.
Soon, active-duty military members and their families began reaching out to VANC for aid, because 90% of active-duty spouses had been furloughed during the first month of the shutdown. With the financial support of John Sanders, VANC started a VEFA Fund to help active-duty families make ends meet.
Upon hearing of food scarcities, VANC stepped up with the American Legion Post 760 to distribute food and diapers. They began in April 2020 and as of late August 2021, they had served 31,028 people—91% of which are active-duty servicemembers—and distributed 264,032 diapers. As the holidays approached and COVID remained, VANC decided to hold a turkey drive where they gave out 672 turkeys. In addition to both of these events, the organization was able to home-deliver food to 7 house-bound veterans each month.
VANC’s volunteers gave 4,952 hours for food distribution alone. Certainly, individuals and organizations in Oceanside and its surrounding cities, as well as VANC Association Members such as the Buffalo Soldiers, Team Rubicon, and American Legion Post 760, continually come out in full force to serve active-duty military and veterans.
One of the most exciting things that is happening at VANC is the Honor Wall and event space. The Honor Wall will display brass plaques that highlight active duty military members and veterans for their service. This Honor Wall will be just opposite a new outdoor community event space that will be directly in front of VANC’s building. This project began in 2019, but when COVID hit, they redistributed their funds (which totaled over $300,000) to provide relief checks, so those in the military community could pay their bills. While the plaques that had already been purchased for the Honor Wall were secured, the funds that were going to be used to pay for creating the event space were utterly depleted. Without the money VANC had raised for the event space, it would not have had the resources available to help during COVID. “I truly believe it was God’s gift,” Lori Boody says.
VANC’s next fundraising event is a golf tournament that will be held on Camp Pendleton’s golf course. Both service members and civilians can participate in this event, connect with one another, and play golf for a great cause.
In November, VANC will be hosting an event with MasterChef Dino Luciano, which will include a meal cooked by Dino and, depending on the ticket tier that members purchase, will include a meet and greet, tastings at VANC’s bar, and more.
Ultimately, VANC exists for those who are serving or who have served in the military, as well as for the community. People can utilize VANC’s building for meetings, events, parties, and more. VANC has three different sized meeting rooms, a commercial kitchen, a full-service bar, and a large banquet room, which will hold 240 plated dinners. If people need a DJ, florist, or another vendor, VANC can also provide recommendations. Renting space at VANC not only means people have an excellent place for their event, it also means they are supporting an incredible organization that supports those who serve our great nation.
If you are interested in volunteering, donating, or holding an event with VANC, click on one of the links below or contact Lori Boody: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Discover more about VANC: https://www.vanc.me/.
Donate to VANC’s Honor Wall: https://www.vanc.me/honor-garden.
Contact VANC: email@example.com.
Follow VANC on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VeteransAssociationNorthCounty.
Connect with Lori Boody: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about our amazing sponsor, John Sanders: https://www.johnsanders.com/about.
Did you like what you heard? This show is produced by Imagine Podcasting dba Heard Not Seen Media, Inc. For more, visit Imagine Podcasting https://www.imaginepodcasting.com.