Rascoe, vice commander of the American Legion Department of California Area 5
and former member of the Navy, knows well the chain of command and his devotion
to duty has served him well.
For these and many more reasons Rascoe
came to the attention of Assembly Member Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) who had
him recognized as the 2019 Distinguished Veteran of the Year for the 56th
Assembly District. He was honored at the Veteran’s Memorial Hall in Imperial on
Before a gathering of local dignitaries
Rascoe recalled his father was a formidable influence, a U.S. Army serviceman
for 30 years who attained the rank of sergeant major. Yet was his mother, a
registered nurse, who perhaps left the more lasting impression.
“When I got out here (from North
Carolina) and was promoted lead of the American Wind Energy Education Work
Group, I phoned my mother the good news,” he recalled for his audience.
“But she told me, ‘That’s well and good but life is not about the money
you earn but the number of people who you touch in a positive way.’”
Rascoe admitted that did not sink in
until he went back east to attend her funeral years later. There were 500
attendees who paid their respects and it was then Rascoe realized his mother
had touched a lot of lives and she was correct.
Long before that Rascoe, who had 10
years of active duty in the U.S. Navy and then 12 more in the Navy and Army reserves,
learned it was better to serve others than serve yourself.
“The motto of the American
Legion and all veteran organizations is: leave no man (or woman) behind,”
Rascoe an Inspiration
to Next Generation
Martin Islas, commander of American
Legion Post 60 in Brawley, delivered a brief testimonial. He extolled Rascoe as
a great mentor, friend and awesome leader. But at the conclusion of the
ceremony in an interview he had a much more telling reminiscence.
It was only a couple of years ago
Islas became commander of Post 60 and began feeling the pressures of his new
responsibilities. In addition, he was still experiencing panic disorder after
his tour of Afghanistan. In a moment of need Islas reached out to Rascoe with a
phone call at 3 a.m. Rather than being annoyed, Rascoe commiserated with Islas.
“He told me the position I took
on was not an easy one,” recalled Islas. “Tracy let me know he is
here for me. He pulled me out of a deep depression I would have fallen in. He
even followed up and checked up on me a couple of days later. You usually don’t
get that from leaders.”
Seeing the Bigger
Garcia, explaining what made Rascoe
such a deserving candidate, noted while answering the nation’s call to duty he
exemplified integrity. As a veteran he dedicated efforts to improve the lives
of fellow veterans.
Garcia also pointed out that in
Imperial Valley, a hub of economic challenges, it is important to address the
issue of homelessness, particularly those homeless veterans. They have been on
the radar screen for Rascoe ever since joining the American Legion.
“Believe me those men and women
are being heard,” pledged Rascoe. “That’s why I became a member of
the Imperial County Continuum of Care council. I participated in the
point-in-time count (January) to find out how many veterans are homeless and
what we can do about it.”
Perhaps what was most disheartening, Rascoe
revealed, was discovering Imperial
County’s resources are limited as to what it can be done. He has an ally in the
CalVet County Veterans Service Office, who claims representative, Lorena,
Lacar, was working an information table at the celebration.
The only men’s shelter in the county,
explained Lacar, is Our Lady of Guadalupe in Calexico. Homeless can only stay
Monday through Friday and must apply for authorization to remain daily. Many of
the homeless are receiving benefits but they do not want to use Section 8 housing
vouchers, she explained.
Some causes of their predicament are
post-traumatic stress disorder, drug addiction or other mental health
“But if those in need reach out
to CVSO we can get them housing vouchers, apply for monetary or health benefits
for individuals, their spouse and children,” said Lacar. “If you
visit our office, we can get you situated.”
Michael Weir, commander of DOC-Area 5,
noted Rascoe focused on doing outreach to veterans from the Korean and Vietnam
eras with weekly hospital visits.
Tracy is a great guy,” said Weir.
“He’s always out there in the community helping somebody and he’s really
Rascoe said he realizes the attention
is now concentrated on the conflict in Syria and neighboring countries but in
no way does he feel his cohort of veterans have been overlooked.
“As a whole, veterans are overlooked
because such a small percentage of the population serves,” he said.
“I would defend my country to my death but our country in its history has
not done enough for our veterans. We have a lot of work to do but we can do it
together to help educate the public.”