Jesse Acosta - President
Sergeant Major (Retired), United States Army
Born in East Los Angeles and raised in Santa Fe Springs, CA. At the age of 18 in 1975, he joined the United States Army. By December of 1979 he earned his well deserved Sergeant stripes. He separated from the active military after completing his second contract November 15, 1982. After a short break, he enlisted in the Army Reserves and continued to progress quickly through the ranks. In 1998, he was promoted to Master Sergeant, and soon after became the First Sergeant for the 349th General Hospital in Los Angeles.
In June 2003, he joined the Individual Ready Reserve program and remained there until he was called to active duty for Mobilization with the 376th Adjutant General Battalion Detachment 4 in June 2005.
The unit was deployed in 2005 to LSA (logistical support area) Anaconda in Balad, the largest support base in Iraq. January 2006, he was promoted to Sergeant Major; two weeks after his promotion, he was wounded in a mortar attack on LSA Anaconda.
Acosta's injuries included loss of his eyes and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). At the time of his injuries he was one of the highest-ranking, non-commissioned officers with the most severe injuries. Despite his injuries, he continued on active duty for four years. Sgt.Major Acosta then retired in 2010 from the Army to begin another battle for his fellow veterans.
Since 2007 he has traveled throughout the country – from the White House to a prison – with the help of his first guide dog, Charlie Boy, assisting vets navigate the same system as he has as an unsighted veteran. He and Charlie Boy were named Heroes of the Fortune 500 for 2014 nationally for their work.
He has also testified before Congress to address accessibility issues for the disabled and been recognized by President Barack Obama, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, several Congress members and city officials for service to his country.
His awards include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medals (6), Army Achievement Medals (3), Army Reserve Component Achievement Medals (6), Armed Forces Reserve Medal with a Silver Hourglass and the" M" device, Combat Action Badge, and the Presidential Certificate of Appreciation among many others.
Charlieboy was born March 2004, in Morristown, New Jersey on the "Seeing Eye" grounds - the number one school in the world for German Sheppard guide dogs.
After being hit by a bomb in Iraq in January 2006, I was introduced to the Seeing Eye by my instructor at a blind school in West Los Angeles. In October 2007, my intention was to acquire a female guide dog, became interested in acquiring a guide dog, but was given a male instead. However, once he and I were introduced and they told me his name was Charlie, I busted up laughing as this was my borther's name as well.
Charlieboy served as more than my guide dog. He was always there waiting to serve me and became extremely instrumental in helping me deal with my PTSD. He was very comforting, loyal, and loving. Charlieboy traveled the entire country with me and went to Congress twice, including an invitation to the White House to witness a bill being signed by the President.
Charlieboy passed away October 8, 2015 from MRSA while at an animal hospital. Charlieboy will always be loved by all and is the logo to TAV. We/I miss you lil' buddy. RIP.
Erick Castro, Vice President & Treasurer
Sergeant (Retired), Unites States Army
Erick enlisted in the Army at the age of 19. In 2003 he was deployed to Iraq. While in Iraq he was conducting raids on key targets, foot patrols, undercover mission, traffic control points, guard on high value areas and other duties. Six months into his deployment he was involved in an ambush. His team was hit with a light anti-tank weapon that took his leg right off at the hip. From Iraq he was flow out to Walter Reed Medical Center. A week after getting to Walter Reed, President Bush presented Erick with the Purple Heart. A month later the late Senator Kennedy approached him to do his citizenship. Erick was naturalized as an American Citizen at Capitol Hill.
In May of 2004, Erick was medically retired from the Army and was able to keep his rank of Sergeant. He graduated from Arizona State University with a Math degree and University of Phoenix with an MBA degree. In 2005, Erick was honored at the Memorial Day Concert in Capitol Hill which was aired by PBS. In 2010 Erick was featured in “Latinos Living the American Dream” sponsored by Pepsi Co. and directed by Eva Longoria.
Awards include the Purple Heart, (3) Army Commendation Medals w/ V device, (3) Army Achievement Medals, Army Good Conduct Medals, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, VA-DAV Freedom Award 2004.
Vincent Lymon, Chief of Operation
Sergeant First Class (Retired), United States Army
SFC (Ret.) Vincent Lymon- Vincent joined the U.S. Army in 1973 and has participated in several missions. He has had the pleasure of serving in different military installations like Fort Ord, Fort Sill, Germany, Norco, California, Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base, Fort Irwin, March Air Force Base and Marine Corps Logistics Base. At his last duty station he was promoted to Manager where he oversaw the day to day operation of Equipment Concentration Site 171. This also included maintenance, command missions, training, unit mission support and storage functions. After 40 years of service, Vincent retired from the US Army in 2015.
Evelyn McLarty, Secretary
Staff Sergeant (Retired), United States Army
Evelyn began her career in the U.S. Army Reserves in January 1986. She deployed in support of Operation Joint Endeavor in Germany; served in a designated imminent danger area in Kuwait/Iraq and Active Duty in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. She has held various leadership positions to include Hospital Nutritionist, Food Service Administration, collect and safeguard funds, Cash - Collection forward to the US Treasury, Squad Leader, and Equal Opportunity Representative.
McLarty’s awards include the Army Commendation Medal (4), Army Achievement Medal (2), Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Star, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with M Device (2).