Valley Springs woman is vet of year

By Mike Morris, The Union Democrat

State Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Twain Harte, has chosen a Valley Springs woman as his 2014 Veteran of the Year.

Gail Belmont, a former U.S. Army staff sergeant, was given a Senate resolution honoring her service at the seventh annual Veterans Recognition Luncheon this week at the Sacramento Convention Center.

Belmont - executive director of a nonprofit called Quilts of Honor, which awards handmade quilts to war veterans - said it was a privilege to be recognized.

"The neatest thing was we got to go on the Senate floor and take pictures with my name up on the big screen," she said Thursday. "That was really pretty cool."

Belmont's military service began just after her 18th birthday. Her first assignment was one that made a lifelong impression on her: playing the instrumental "Taps" at the funerals of fallen Vietnam War soldiers.

As a member of the Women's Army Corps Band, she played at the funerals from 1969 to 1972.

Now, at the age of 62, she continues her service in another way - thanking veterans who have fought for their country.

She founded Quilts of Honor, which is based in Rancho Calaveras and has chapters throughout the country. The organization has hundreds of volunteers who have created thousands of patriotic quilts for war veterans.

For the full story, see the June 27, 2014, edition of The Union Democrat.

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