SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Jim Frazier, D-Fairfied, honored Pittsburg resident and United States Air Force Senior Airman Archie Smith (Retired) as Assembly District 11’s 2020 Veteran of the Year.
“One of the best things I get to do every year is name the 11th AD Veteran of the Year to highlight the military service and contributions of a veteran resident of our district,” Frazier said. “Archie Smith is someone who often offers aid to others before they even think to ask. He is passionate about working with veterans and civic organizations to make a difference in our community. It is my honor to recognize U.S. Air Force Senior Airmen and veteran community advocate Archie Smith as this year’s Veteran of the Year.”
Smith was deployed overseas three times during his four years of service: Twice to Bahrain and once to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, where he was awarded the Air Force Achievement Medal for managing his weapons load crew through an emergency quick-turn munitions load resulting in the destruction of 40 Iraqi Air Defense Systems and one surface-to-air missile site. Exposures to Gulf War airborne toxins and job-related orthopedic injuries caused Smith to be discharged honorably with the rank of Senior Airman.
Following his service, Smith applied for disability benefits through the Disabled American Veterans Service Organization (DAV) and was offered a job with them as a Transitional and future National Service Officer and supervisor. For the next 12 years, working out of the Oakland and Sacramento offices, Archie provided hundreds of benefit seminars and record reviews to newly discharging veterans, traveling monthly to five different military bases in Northern California. Smith has represented hundreds of veterans at personnel hearings before administrative law judges with the Department of Veterans Affairs and has conducted thousands of interviews, teaching his interpretation of claims development.
Continuing his commitment to service while living in Pittsburg, Archie retired early and began volunteering as a Chapter and Post Service Officer for DAV Chapter 21 in Vallejo, American Legion Post 161 in Antioch and VFW Post 10789 in Brentwood. He also has volunteered more than 1,000 hours counseling veterans and their families, cooking for veterans at community events, and creating his own way of veteran outreach through targeted claims development seminars.
Since April 12, 2018, Smith has held the position of Director of Veterans Services for the Veterans Health Navigation Partnership (VHNP) between La Clinica and VFW Post 10789. This alliance started for two reasons: to help bring awareness of potential health care options at La Clinica, which is closer to our community’s veteran population than the Martinez VA Hospital, and to bring businesses and organizations who support veterans and family members together several times a year to network and learn about claims development and service organization membership, as well as one-on-one personal counseling sessions. Along with conducting private interviews, phone calls, and responding to emails from veterans across the country, Smith has also conducted three target seminars, reaching a couple hundred of our community’s veterans and their families.
For nearly the last decade along with continued veteran service, Smith has also been the proud owner of Archie’s S&Q Smoked and BBQ Meats in Pittsburg. A true community staple of BBQ and famous sides, always willing to lend a hand at veteran and community events. If you have not tried it yet, best get yourself out there to order some of the best in town.
Smith joins a growing list of veterans tapped for the Assembly District 11 Veteran of the Year honor by Frazier, including Jeff Jewell, Derek McGinnis, Janet Wilson, Mike Brimer, Steve Todd, Enrico Cinquini, Jesse Branch and Ed Parisarda.
Assemblymember Frazier represents the 11th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Antioch, Bethel Island, Birds Landing, Brentwood, Byron, Collinsville, Discovery Bay, Fairfield, Isleton, Knightsen, Locke, Oakley, Pittsburg (partial), Rio Vista, Suisun City, Travis AFB, Vacaville and Walnut Grove.