Dom Garofano, a 40-year Mountain View resident, was honored this week by the Paralyzed Veterans of America for his "longstanding commitment and dedication to the health and well-being of all veterans," as his award reads. Garofano, 87, is co-chairman of the Palo Alto Elks Lodge Veterans Service Committee.
The committee works with recreation therapists at the VA hospital to hold barbeques, monthly bingo games and holiday gift drives for paralyzed vets. The volunteers primarily work with patients who have spinal and brain injuries, Garofano said. In his seven years as co-chairman of the committee, the veterans have organized 70 bingo events, he said.
"Most people think of veterans at Memorial Day, Veterans Day or Christmas, but the veterans are there all the time," Garofano said. "We like to work with them all the time, not just on holidays."
As a World War II Marine Corps veteran himself, Garofano said he recognizes the importance of working with injured vets.
"They need to know that people are thinking about them and the service they've done for their country," he said.
Garofano said he first started volunteering by driving a shuttle for the VA hospital. Though he appreicates the award, he said he would be doing the work regardless.
"We mostly do it because we enjoy working with the veterans," Garofano said. "But it's nice to have someone officially recognize you."
Garofano and his co-chairman, Los Altos resident Loren Dowell, received their awards at a banquet in Santa Clara. Garofano says he plans to continue serving veterans for as long as he is able to.
"I have to be careful how I spend my time, but I can always take time off to spend time with veterans," he said.