On July 16, Faustino “Tino” Adame stood alongside fellow veterans savoring a close-up look at the VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic currently under construction in Stockton, California.
It’s taken Adame nearly three decades of advocating to see the clinic become a reality, but his staunch commitment to veterans goes back even further.
In 1966, at the age of 19, Adame felt the call and volunteered for the Vietnam War. He didn’t know if he wanted to make a career of the Marine Corps at that point, but he knew he wanted to do his part and serve. During his tour, however, his unit was ambushed and came under heavy fire. During the ensuing firefight, a bullet ripped through his ankle, abruptly putting an end to any military career he might have had ahead of him.
The injury was severe enough that he had to be discharged from the Marine Corps, but his desire to serve and be involved with veterans never diminished. It was while he was recovering from surgeries and going through physical therapy that Adame stopped by American Legion Karl Ross Post 16. He had no idea that this visit would lead to his being post commander for the next 25 years, a district commander for two years, and ultimately, the Department of American Legion California commissioner of affairs and rehabilitation, covering an area from San Joaquin County to Bakersfield and Mojave.
During his years of service with American Legion, Adame begin pursuing better health care facilities for veterans in the San Joaquin/Stockton region. He said that when he heard that a medical complex was going to be built somewhere in California, he and veteran Cary Martin began working hard to ensure the location would be in the Stockton area.
“Oh goodness, we attended three or four Congressional hearings each year in Livermore for a little over fifteen years,” said Adame. “Other areas like Modesto, Oakland, the Bay Area wanted the facility too, but we kept advocating to bring it here where it would be centrally located.”
Ultimately, Adame, Martin and a host of American Legion veterans persisted, relentlessly advocating until the decision was made to build a medical complex in Stockton.
“Man, when we heard that decision we were thrilled! It’s taken so many years to get there – we didn’t know if we would ever get to see it happen. It’s unbelievable to get to see it being built here in Stockton,” said Adame.
Thomas (Tony) Fitzgerald, former Director of the VA Palo Alto Health Care System in Palo Alto, California, said they had been working for many years to get Congress and the President to fund a clinic, but believes it was Adame’s efforts that helped seal the deal.
“George W. Bush was president when we first started trying to get the Stockton area clinic built, and it wasn’t approved until Obama was president – but without Tino and his steady advocating – I don’t know if we would have that clinic there today,” said Fitzgerald.
In fact, to honor the unfaltering efforts of Adame, it was Fitzgerald who approved a road at the new medical campus: Tino Adame Road.
When asked how he felt about having a street named after him, the humble Adame struggled for a moment to find the right words.
I’m … well … I’m honored,” said Adame. “But, hey – I feel I made it back from Vietnam for a reason. I believe the Lord has his ways of guiding people to what needs to be done, and I feel my reason for making it back is to help veterans.
To better serve Veterans closer to where they reside, the Livermore realignment initiative will expand clinical services in Stockton and Fremont. The new 158,000-square-foot Community-Based Outpatient Clinic and 120-bed Community Living Center will be built on a 52-acre land parcel located next to San Joaquin General Hospital, adjacent to Interstate 5.
For more information:
VA Palo Also Heath Care System
Sacramento District Department of Veterans Affairs