“This guy, forget him,” Vick remembers thinking at the time. “Then two years later, I married him.”
Vick, who chose the Navy over the Army because she hated the khaki uniforms, comes from a family tradition of military service — her mother was an Army nurse in World War I. And as Veterans Day approaches this Friday, I've found that military tradition has knit together many of Burbank's families.
Brad Welker figures he's a sixth-generation U.S. veteran, having served in the Special Forces in Vietnam. His son, Ryan, is an Army sergeant stationed in Japan. Brad Welker's father was a Pearl Harbor survivor, and it was his post-World War II life that showed Brad how Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can manifest.
Today, Brad Welker regularly talks to veterans who experience PTSD. He says it's brought on by stress and tension, which service people experience whether they are combat veterans or not.
“It's good to meet people and talk about an experience they wouldn't talk about for years,” he said. “Since 9/11, the country has been more veterans-focused. Burbank has always been good to veterans — there's a feeling of compassion, I believe.”
Vick has always tried to spread that compassion, not only to veterans, but active duty personnel. In 1966, she began Operation Cookie Lift while on the Burbank High School PTA.
Cardboard boxes wouldn't withstand the wet Vietnam climate, so a neighbor who worked at a studio filled her garage with empty motion-picture film canisters. Vick would coordinate shipments of cookies and notes from girls at the high school, some of whom had boyfriends serving overseas. Afterward, soldiers would reuse the canisters to keep things dry.
“It became a big hit,” she said.