Throughout the years, the Raiders have received endless amounts of support from a loyal and devoted fan base. To show their appreciation towards the community, team members took time off from training camp following their pre-season victory over the Chicago Bears to pay a visit to the Veterans Home of California (VHC) in Yountville.
VHC Yountville is located just outside the Raiders training facilities in Napa, California and is comprised of over 1,100 veterans making it the largest veteran's home in the United States. The VHC offers residential accommodations and essential health care to their residents, many of them being lifetime Raider fans.
FB Manase Tonga and OL Alex Parsons pose for a photo with a fan at the Veteran's Home of California. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
After arriving at the Veterans Home, kicker Swayze Waters, linebacker Travis Goethel, offensive lineman Alex Parsons, and fullback Tonga Manase were greeted by the adoring fans of Yountville. The Raiders spent time taking pictures, signing autographs and sharing life stories with war veterans and members of the community.
Several residents were delighted to have the Raiders come to visit. "Everyone enjoys when the Raiders come whether you're a Raider fan or not," said John Frane, a resident of VHC Yountville. Frane continued, "for the next few weeks everyone is going to stop talking about their war stories and start talking about where they were when the Raiders were here."
Paul Beitzel, a 14-year resident of VHC Yountville and lifetime Raider fan was thrilled to meet members of the Oakland Raiders. "This is very special for me," said Beitzel. "The people of Yountville will be talking about this for the next three months."
LB Travis Goethel poses for a photo with residents of the Veteran's Home of California. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
After sharing stories with residents and showing their appreciation for the many years of service provided by members of the VHC, the players were given a tour of the community, which consists of a 9-hole golf course, baseball stadium, 1,200 seat theater and a recreational vehicle park. The tour ended in the local cemetery where the players were given a brief history lesson of not only the VHC, but also the wars and encounters of American veterans from different generations.
Swayze Waters was touched by the experience and was glad to take time out of training camp to meet with the men and women who have provided an honorable service to this country. "You could learn a lot from talking to these kinds of guys," said Waters after learning the stories of several war veterans.
Once the players were given the history of the veterans and their surrounding community, VHC Director of Photography and Media, Steven Jackman, was able to tell the Raiders what it really meant to have them visit the Veterans home. "As simple as it sounds, it's a huge break for these guys to be able to sit and talk to somebody they don't know. You've made their day," said Jackman. "It means the world to these guys if you spend just 15 minutes with them so they can tell you about their wife or kids. They're that much happier."
Jackman suggested that most of the veterans will be proud to go back to their rooms and call their families to let them know that they were able to meet with some of the Oakland Raiders.