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    The Ultimate Sacrifice

    AlexRandolphHeadshot2This past March 30, I had the incredible honor of attending and participating in the 148th Annual San Francisco Memorial Day Commemoration. It was my first time to attend this annual event at the Presidio Cemetery as an elected official.

    Once again retired Lt. Col. Wallace Levin did a remarkable job organizing the event, allowing San Franciscans to pay our respects to those who died in combat and their families. To top it all off, Senator and former Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders made a surprise visit to attend the ceremony while in town. It was truly emotional to see so many people come out to remember the fallen heroes and their “Yellow Star” families who made the ultimate sacrifice serving our country. Additionally, there are thousands of Veterans in the Bay Area that live among us. They are teachers, fire fighters, law enforcement officers, husbands, co-workers, nurses, tech workers, and students.

    To me, this event was particularly personal. As I have written about previously, my husband is currently an officer serving in the Navy Reserve. I was very glad that he was able to join me this year. Sadly, he is going to active duty shortly, and will be moving to a different city for at least a year. We both knew that this day would eventually come, but I am not sure how one can ever prepare for something like this. Whenever, I talk to or read about a Veteran, man or woman in uniform, or their families, I understand that their version of public service isn’t easy and can take a toll. Finding a way to make their lives a little easier might be my way to deal with what’s yet to come for my still fresh Navy family.

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    Service members, Veterans, and their families are an integral part of our lives in the United States. According to the latest Census report, there are currently over 21.8 million Veterans living in the U.S. and about 25,000 in San Francisco alone. That is why I am so proud that City College of San Francisco has a long tradition of serving our servicemen and women since its establishment in 1935.

    I am very proud of our innovative and unique partnership with the San Francisco VA Medical Center, which provides critical mental health services and outreach to Veterans on campus. In 2011, we opened a newly modernized Veterans Resource Center, currently serving over 1,200 students who are Veterans, with a strong mission to ensure their successful transition from military life into civilian careers. Education, as always, plays a vital role in changing lives and allows people to achieve their full potential.

    I am very proud to be a Navy spouse of an openly gay service member. I was nervous at first about meeting his colleagues and commanding officers, but I have received nothing but support. Things have truly changed. All of us celebrated the announcement that the Navy will be naming a future ship after Harvey Milk. City College is truly a special place and allows me to serve our Vets and their families. Now is a perfect time to take a class, meet a Vet, and all of our incredible diverse students, given that the fall semester is about to start.

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    Alex Randolph is a Trustee for City College of San Francisco. He previously served in President Obama’s administration and as an LGBT advisor for Mayor Newsom. He lives in the Castro with his partner Trevor. Follow him on social media: &