Name Honors Lion’s Sacrifice The United States Department of Veterans Affairs has dedicated its new Blind Rehabilitation Center in Long Beach, California, to Dr. Charles “Rob” Soltes, an optometrist who was a member of the Garden Grove Lions Club. The 36-year-old Major had served only two weeks in Iraq in 2004 as an Army reservist in the Civil Affairs Battalion when he was killed by a bomb as he returned to base from Mosul after helping equip a hospital for civilians. He is the first optometrist killed in action while serving on active duty with the United States military. The new Charles Robert Soltes Jr. Blind Rehabilitation Center is part of a seven-building, $100 million complex that took three years to complete. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports that there are 50,000 blind or visually impaired veterans in their system. Service Still Given with a Smile On March 20, 1937, Joseph Celona Jr. celebrated a birthday. On April 1, he joined the North Providence, Rhode Island Lions Club, chartered the previous year. Since then he’s celebrated a lot more birthdays—a whole lot of them, in fact. He’s still proudly serving his community 75 years later as one of the world’s oldest and longest serving Lions at the age of 104. “He still attends monthly meetings and is in inspiration in our district due to his enthusiasm and dedication to service,” says District 42 RI First Vice Governor Rosa Branco. Lions had better start saving their pennies—75th anniversary gifts are traditionally diamonds and gold, although Celona would probably decline such fanciful gifts. He recently told The Valley Breeze & Observer, “Just the comfort of having somewhere to go and to keep learning new activities in your life as you go along—what more do you want?”
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