Manuel Medina spent 10 years in the U.S. Army and 12 years in the military Reserves. Now, he spends at least once a week visiting military veterans who are residents of Lompoc Valley Medical Center: Comprehensive Care Center.

A “Blue Coat” volunteer, Manuel comes from his home in Santa Maria to the skilled nursing facility each week and checks up on six veterans at the CCC.

“I’m retired and I wasn’t doing anything,” said Manuel, who worked 20 years at the United States Penitentiary in Lompoc. “There are a lot of individuals who don’t get visits. If anyone needs help, I don’t mind helping.”

Manuel talks to the veterans about current events and their lives at the CCC. He takes them for walks in the garden and joins them in activities. Sometimes, they’ll talk to each other about their military experiences.

“This is satisfying,” Manuel said. “I’m giving my time instead of sitting around the house. One day I’ll be in their shoes.”