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We ask veterans, 'What are you doing on Veterans Day?'




Maggie and Tracey Cooper-Harris. Tracey served 12 years in the Army, National Guard, and Reserves.
Maggie and Tracey Cooper-Harris. Tracey served 12 years in the Army, National Guard, and Reserves.
Courtesy Tracey Cooper-Harris
Maggie and Tracey Cooper-Harris. Tracey served 12 years in the Army, National Guard, and Reserves.
Billiekai Boughton served in the US Army from 1989-1992 in communications. She wouldn't recommend it to other women.
Courtesy Billiekai Boughton
Maggie and Tracey Cooper-Harris. Tracey served 12 years in the Army, National Guard, and Reserves.
Mary and Les Goldberg, then.
Courtesy Mary and Les Goldberg
Maggie and Tracey Cooper-Harris. Tracey served 12 years in the Army, National Guard, and Reserves.
Mary and Les Goldberg in October - together 47 years.
Courtesy Mary and Les Goldberg


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We put out the call through KPCC's Public Insight Network: "If you're a veteran, tell Off-Ramp what you're doing for Veterans Day." And we got some great responses:

"I'm walking in the San Diego Veteran's Day Parade with the San Diego Veteran's Coalition (my husband and son will join us as well).  Afterward, we'll have lunch with our veteran friends and supporters and go to a veterans celebration in the evening at one of the local colleges. " — Billiekai Boughton

Billiekai Boughton lives in San Diego and served in the U.S. Army from 1989 to 1992 — including eight months in Desert Storm — and was named UCSD’s 2010 Veteran of the Year. She says her job was "essentially a glorified telephone operator. We had these rigs I like to describe as a U-Haul on the back of a Humvee."

Marching is important to her because it helps highlight the overlooked role of women in the military. But... "Are you glad you served?" I asked.

"No," she said candidly. "Veterans Day is supposed to be celebratory, but often it's very mournful for me. I notice a lot of sacrifice that goes unnoticed and un-thanked."

I also asked what advice she'd give my friend's daughter, who is in basic training.

"It's too late," she said. She'd have advised her to go to college instead.


"Calling up friends I served with to catch up, looking forward to the virtual/online debut of WarInk featuring 24 Veterans from Iraq & Afghanistan talking about their military experiences, tattoos, & transition back to civilian life; attending San Fernando Valley's Veterans Day parade, then hanging out with fellow veterans at some of the eateries offering deals." — Tracey Cooper-Harris

Pasadena's Tracey Cooper-Harris, who served from 1991 to 2003 in the Army, Reserves and National Guard, had what she describes as "the best job ever." Her job was to help with dogs in the service, from dogs that accompanied MP's on patrol to dogs that detect explosives.

You may remember her name because last year, a U.S. District Court judge slapped down Veterans Affairs for denying spousal benefits to Tracey's wife Maggie. (Tracey and Maggie married in 2008; when she in the service, Tracey didn't ask and didn't tell.)

One of Tracey's pet projects is WarInk, which uses vets' tattoos to help soldiers connect with civilians.

WATCH THE WARINK VIDEO: "Some stories are told with words ... others with ink."


"Since my wife and I are both Vietnam Era veterans, we will be attending the annual Veteran's Day Celebration at the VA Health Center in Long Beach. Afterwards, we will join our fellow vets at the American Legion Post 555 and later have dinner at a veteran-friendly restaurant." — Les Goldberg

Mary Goldberg joined the WACs in 1965; Les Goldberg joined the Army — he says he was in the first round of LBJ's draftees in 1966. They wound up in adjacent barracks in San Antonio, met in the mess hall, and after they married stayed in the same house Mamie and Ike used long before they were President and First Lady.

(The Eisenhower's in San Antonio, 1915.)

Now Mary and Les live happily in Santa Ana, married 47 years. "I'm very proud," Mary says. "I love my country, I love to say the Pledge of Allegiance, I'm just glad I did it."

MARCH! Saturday, Nov. 8, is 15th annual Long Beach Veterans Day parade

Be sure to listen all three interviews. Click on the Listen Now button on the left.

This piece is part of KPCC's ongoing coverage of issues affecting veterans for Veteran's Day 2014. See more of our coverage at KPCC.org/vets.