Chandler veterans panel finally finds its footing - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler veterans panel finally finds its footing

November 10th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
Chandler veterans panel finally finds its footing

By Ken Sain
Managing Editor

The Chandler City Council approved a Military and Veterans Affairs Commission a year ago. It took a while, but the commission is ready to be part of the community.

Its first events was a Veterans Appreciation breakfast held last Friday and a celebration for Veterans Day this coming Friday Nov. 11.

It took months for the new commission to find its footing.

“Part of it was we had to learn how to deal with the city,” said Bob Dalpe, who chairs the commission. “The city moves slow.

Dalpe said that he and some friends were able to put together an event last year in three days. He said he learned government doesn’t work that fast.

“Also you get the open meeting law. If four of us get together and decisions are made, we break the law. I’m not going to jail for a volunteer gig.”

Andy Bass, the deputy city manager and primary liaison for the commission, said it wasn’t until May that the group of seven found its footing.

“It’s fun to have a brand-new commission, but you have to formalize as a group, you have to team build, and then you formalize what you’re about,” Bass said.

At the May summit, both Dalpe and Bass said the commission decided to focus on three events they wanted to do. The first was something for Veterans Day.

“We’re going to keep it relatively simple, especially since this is our first major event,” Dalpe said. “I mean we can have all sorts of things go in here and go in there but those tend to fail. Simple is better.”

The second event is a veterans’ town hall. They want to bring in veterans from the area to hear what their concerns are. A date for that has not been scheduled.

The final event will likely take place in May. Dalpe said they want to recognize high school seniors who have chosen to enter military service. They also want to honor those who are retiring from military service.

Bass said they view it as a mentoring opportunity, where those who are about to serve can learn from those who are leaving service. Dalpe said he’d like to hold it at the Chandler Center for the Arts, but they haven’t begun any planning on that event yet.

Dalpe said he entered military service when he was 19 in 1978 “to get away from my family.”

His former girlfriend had suggested the Navy, which he dismissed. However, when he arrived at the military recruiting stations, he gave it another thought. He said he immediately ruled out joining the Army or Marines because they spend too much time in dirt.

“I don’t want to be those people, they catch bullets,” he said.

He ultimately chose the Air Force because the recruiting poster for the Navy showed a lonely aircraft carrier surrounded by ocean. He suspected the off-duty time was no fun.

“I said to myself, ‘Self, I want my … freedoms, beer and European women, when I get off of work,’” Dalpe said. “So that’s really why I went to the Air Force.”

He worked as a weather forecaster and served in Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm. He retired from the military in 1993.

“It was good for me,” Dalpe said. “I got to see Europe, spent time in the Caribbean. The job itself was interesting. I may not have always been the best military personnel in the world. Don’t ask me to attack hills without giving me a good reason. It was an interesting experience.”

Bass said he thinks the commission is on the right track.

“Overall, I’ve been impressed,” he said. “There is a unity to try and make a difference, to try to have an impact.”

He went to work in the corporate world, but wanted to stay active in veterans affairs. He has become an advocate, including advising state legislators. He was the one pushing the mayor and city council to create a veterans commission in Chandler. He said Councilman Matt Orlando – himself a veteran – helped make it happen.

“We expect more events in the future,” Dalpe said. “This is our first year. So we’ve had some teething issues, but we’re getting certain parts down. I’m sure whoever my replacement is in the future will have some terrific ideas.”