Recently Raiders Legend and Hall of Famer Willie Brown visited The Veterans Home of California, Yountville. The Raiders hold training camp just a few miles down the road in Napa.
"I spoke to a very nice group of veterans out here at the home," said Brown. "I signed a lot of autographs and chit-chatted and answered some questions that they had. It was great."
The Raiders have visited the veterans' home in Yountville for 12 consecutive years. The visits have been uplifting for the players who hear amazing stories from the vets.
"We've been here for what next April will be 130 years with the same mission – we care for aged and disabled veterans," said Marcella McCormack, Director of the Veterans Home. "We have partners and one of them for the last 12 years has been the Raiders. We've gotten rookies, players, and this time they decided to send us a Hall of Famer star in Willie Brown."
Brown met veterans from many different overseas conflicts. "The members are just thrilled. He's met Iwo Jima survivors. He's meeting women who were in the 2nd World War. He's met people from Vietnam, the current conflict; we have a program with those from Afghanistan and Iraq. He's meeting spouses," explained McCormack.
Although the veterans come from many different places and backgrounds, they could all relate to Brown, who spoke about his military family. "He did a wonderful speech. He's so humble. He could be one of us," said McCormack. "When Willie talked about how his five brothers were all in the service, Navy, Army, Air Force, and how much he appreciated the veterans, I just saw all of them just sit up in their chairs a little more and feel like what they did all meant something for people, even someone who is a superstar like Willie Brown."
Brown was relaying his own, as well as the Raiders, appreciation for current and former military. "I said earlier that I have five brothers who were in the service so I can appreciate them," said Brown. "I appreciate my brothers even more now after coming here because to see how excited these guys are to have somebody to say hello to them and let them know that we do appreciate all the work and service they have done for us over the years. To see so many guys with a lot of spirit, they have a lot of spirit."
Brown summed up what all the Raiders who have visited The Veterans Home of California, Yountville, have felt over the last 12 years, when he spoke to the group. "You are a tribute to not only to me and the Raiders organization, but also to the country. And we thank you for that."