A Combat Veteran's Hope is made up of volunteers who want to give back. Our Board of Directors and Staff are committed to make a positive impact in the lives of our brave Combat Veterans and their families.
Bill is a native of Visalia, Ca. He proudly served in the U.S. Army and is a Combat Veteran of the Vietnam War. Bill's awards include the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with three bronze service stars, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal. Bill attended the College of the Sequoias and graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Ca. Bill currently serves as Commander of American Legion Post 18 and as Chairperson of the Visalia Veterans Committee. He was also the past president of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA)-Sequoia. Bill and his wife Janet were married on Valentine's Day 2011. He has two children, Laura and Jim. He is currently an agent for New York Life Insurance.
Mike was born in Tulare, Ca and graduated from Tulare Western. Mike proudly served in the United States Marine Corps and is a Combat Veteran of the Vietnam War. After returning from Vietnam, Mike worked for the United States Postal Service and retired after years of faithful service. Mike co-founded the Central Valley Vietnam Veterans to help his fellow Combat Veterans heal through unity. He currently serves as the Vice-President and Event Coordinator for the organization. Mike's awards include the Purple Heart Medal, Meritiorious Mast, A Battle Field Commission and the Combat Action Ribbon.
Co-Founder/Chief of Staff
Steve graduated from Redwood High School in Visalia, Ca. He proudly served U.S. Army and is a Combat Veteran of the Iraq War. After his active duty enlistment, Steve served in the California National Guard. Steven holds an Associates Degree in General Studies from the College of the Sequoias (COS). While attending COS he served as Vice President for the Veterans Society, a Veteran's club he helped establish. Steve also helped found a Softball Team made up of primarily Combat Veterans to provide a venue for them compete, while engaging with one another to foster healing through engagement. Steven has gained experience on providing various Veteran and family orientated functions in Visalia. Steve also serves as Chief of Staff for A Combat Veteran’s Hope.
Crystal was born and raised in the city of Tulare, Ca. She has been married to her husband Charles for six years. Together they have two girls, Gwendolyn (11) and Quorra (4). Crystal is currently Assistant Vice- President, Banking Services Officer at the Tulare branch of Rabobank. Crystal has been heavily involved in the community for several years; Organizations include: The Tulare Library Foundation, The Tulare Noon Rotary Club, AMVETS Department of California, The Tulare Sci-Fi Con and The Central Valley Vietnam Veterans. Crystal was nominated by her Rotary group to participate in the Tulare Chamber Of Commerce’s 2015/16 Leadership class where she currently is an active student, and hopes to graduate in May 2016.
Norbie Lara Executive Director/Co-Founder
Norbie graduated from Sequoia High School in Visalia, Ca. He proudly served in the U.S. Army for 11 1/2 years. He is a Combat Veteran of the Iraq war. While on combat patrol, his squad came under ambush and he was severely wounded. Norbie eventually overcame his physical disabilities and through various non-profits around the Country, learned to adapt to his invisible wounds. Norbie retired in 2006 and returned to Visalia, Ca. Norbie volunteered numerous hours as one of the first Area Outreach Coordinators with Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) and was hired full time as a Spokesman for the organization. Norbie gained vast experience helping those that struggled due to their time in combat.. Norbie’s notable awards include: The Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Korea Defense Service Medal, and Non Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon (2nd award) Norbie is married to Priscilla Lara and together they have four children. Norbie holds a Bachelor's Degree in Business Management from University of Phoenix and Master's Degree in Strategic Communications from National University.
CJ Cantu Outreach Manager
CJ hails from Temple, Texas. During high school he enlisted into the US Marine Corps which brought him to California. A Combat Veteran of the Iraq War, CJ’s service awards include: two Navy Unit Commendations, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal, two Sea Service Deployment Ribbons, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. A Certificate of Commendation was also bestowed upon him for serving on a Personal Security Detachment in addition to his duties as a Fire Direction Control Man. After his enlistment, CJ moved to Visalia to begin attending College of the Sequoias. While in school, he became a student worker in the Veteran’s Service Office and served as President of the COS Veterans Society for several semesters. He accepted a full-time staff position in the Admissions Office, where he met his wife Rosa, and has earned multiple degrees from the College. Along with his primary responsibilities as Outreach Manager, CJ also services as manager of the ACVH Softball team.
Family Support Manager
Priscilla is a homegrown product of Tulare County, and graduated from Mount Whitney High School. She went on to marry Norbie Lara and together they have four children. In the past eight years of marriage, not only has Priscilla earned an Associate of Arts in Psychology from the College of the Sequoias and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Fresno State University, she has also assisted Norbie with his efforts as a spokesperson with the national non-profit military veteran organization Wounded Warrior Project (WWP). Her first-hand experience of being a combat veteran spouse and her dedication to empowering others within WWP led to her to become a peer mentor for spouses within the organization; setting the stage for her current position within ACVH as the Family Support Manager. Today Priscilla works for the Visalia Unified School District as a Para Professional in Special Education. She will begin working on her Master’s Degree next year, majoring in Counseling – Education Administration.
Michael Garza Chief Financial Officer
Michael Garza was born in Hollister, Ca and raised in Porterville, Ca where he graduated from Monache High School. In 2002, he enlisted in the United States Marines Corps and was stationed with 5th Battalion 11th Marines in Camp Pendleton, Ca. Michael is a proud Combat Veteran of the Iraq War. He then finished out his enlistment with the 1st Tanks Battalion in Twenty-Nine Palms, Ca where he was honorably discharged in 2006. His personal military awards include Meritorious Mast, Letter of Appreciation, Navy Meritorious Commendation, and two Certificates of Commendation. He was also awarded Combat Action Ribbon, Sea Service Deployment, Presidential Unit Citation, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, National Defense, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. Michael holds a Bachelors degree in Business Management from Fresno Pacific University and has worked to gain an extensive financial background. Michael currently resides in Visalia, Ca with his wife of 12 years and three children.
Christopher Peichoto Outdoor Program/ Outreach Team
Christopher is a product of the Valley, being born and raised in Fresno County. After graduating from Riverdale High School, Chris enlisted into the United States Marine Corps as an Infantryman. He worked his way to eventually becoming a section leader within his company. During his years of service, Chris was deployed to two tours of combat, both in Iraq. During his service, he was awarded multiple accommodations to include 2 Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals with Combat "V" for Valor, Combat Action Ribbon, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, and National Defense Service Medal. Chris is a member of the Riverdale Rodeo Association and is very active with the Portuguese Community throughout the Central Valley. In addition to his current position as the Kings County Outreach Coordinator, Chris is also pioneering our new ACVH Outdoor Program to engage our Warfighters in various outdoor activities from hiking and archery, to hunting and fishing.
Rosa has lived in the Central Valley for the past 23 years. After graduating from Redwood High School, she proceeded to enroll at College of the Sequoias (COS) where she earned an Associate’s Degree. It was while working on her Bachelor’s Degree at Fresno State, that she was able to attain a job at COS and has been working there for the past 13 years in the Financial Aid Department. Through that role, Rosa has been able to assist people not only in an office setting but also by coordinating outreach presentations throughout the area. It was at COS that she also met her husband, CJ Cantu, the ACVH Outreach Coordinator. His enthusiasm toward the program interested Rosa into becoming a more active member. She is passionate about assisting our combat veterans, and hopes to make a positive impact in this capacity.
SOAR Program Coordinator
Joe is a Combat Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom who proudly served in both the Oregon National Guard and U.S. Army active duty. After his enlistment, he relocated to Visalia where he has served as a Minority Faith Chaplain for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, as well as one of the Religious Program Instructors for the California Department of Mental Health. Joe holds an Associates Degree in Religion from Jerry Falwell's Baptist Seminary; a Bachelors Degree in Pyschology, specializing in Military Resilience; a Masters Degree in Counseling, specializing in Crisis Intervention and Trauma from Liberty University; and has been a guest lecturer at Fresno State University for the past ten years. Joseph has served as a Peer Mentor with Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), a Peer Counselor with Veterati; and currently serves as the Program Coordinator for the SOAR peer support program, where he facilitated group PTSD support meetings and now offers private one-on-one peer counseling and support.
Tulare County Outreach Coordinator
James graduated from Camden High School in South Carolina. There he joined the US Marine Corp and served as a Machine Gunner in the Infantry Unit in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. After his 4 years of service to the Marine Corp, he joined the US Army and enlisted as a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Specialist where he was stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas. Throughout his military service, he has completed 3 tours to Operation Iraqi Freedom as well as Operation Enduring Freedom, and is a well honored serviceman with many military achievements awards, military service ribbons, and medals. After his military career, James attended Santa Barbara Business College where he earned his degree in Health & Wellness. He has also worked as Program Specialist for the Bakersfield Veteran Service Office. James now lives in Porterville with his wife, a fellow Combat Veteran and 3 children where he hopes to work with ACVH and use his experience and education as good tools to help other Combat Veterans in the Porterville and surrounding areas.
Ysabel grew up in Visalia, Ca and graduated from Redwood High School. She proudly served in the U.S. Navy for 7 years. Ysabel is a Combat Veteran that deployed with USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group to conduct operations in the Central and Western Pacific. USS Nimitz supported the Global War on Terrorism with Joint and combined operations. She also served on the USS Belleau Wood and USS Essex forward deployed in Japan. Helped establish new command COMHSLWINGPAC Weapons Training Unit preparing and briefing Pilots for deployment. She worked at TACTICAL TRAINING GROUP as Tactical Data Link Operator that contributed with an extraordinary complex TADIL architecture linking ten ships and 5 shore commands. Her Outstanding Link Knowledge resulted in a 3000-Mile Link and contributed to training of over 500 sailors. Her attention to detail and effort resulted in a 100% link assist success rate. Ysabel’s notable awards include Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Navy “E” Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and Sea Service Deployment Medal. Two Letters of Commendation from USN Admiral and Vice Admiral Pacific Fleet. After her enlistment, Ysabel moved to Visalia to begin attending College of the Sequoias. While in school she helped grow COS Veterans Society Club as President and Vice President. After graduating with an AA in Communications she worked with two top Law Firms in San Diego, Ca doing administration. Ysabel now lives in Visalia with her daughter while her son is away at College. Ysabel has more than 20 years of Administrative experience behind her and communication skills. She hopes to work with ACVH and use all her experience to help staff. She also wants to help all Veterans and Combat Veterans while with ACVH.