Monday, October 29, 2012


I'm proud to know Bill Rider. A friend and mentor to America's veterans for years, Rider, co-founder of American Combat Veterans of War (ACVOW), has helped thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans make the sometimes tough transition from combat to civilian life.

And for his efforts, Bill is finally getting the recognition he deserves. The San Diego Human Relations Commission (HRC) has just announced that Rider is the recipient of this year's Keith M. Turnham Humanitarian Award.

Each year this award honors a veteran who continues to be involved in public service. Bill, a Marine veteran who fought at Khe Sanh, the site of one of the Vietnam War's bloodiest battles, has dedicated his life to helping his fellow warriors.

A no-nonsense, straight shooting kind of guy, but also a man of great humor and warmth, Bill co-founded ACVOW in 2001, and ever since the organization has provided a variety of services to veterans and active warriors, including mentoring, advising and assisting veterans as well as active-duty personnel and military families. Bill and his fellow ACVOW staffers are especially skilled at helping warriors that are suffering from post traumatic stress (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

ACVOW, whose motto fittingly is, "Because sometimes the fight continues... even after the mission is completed," now has three offices in San Diego County.

A worthy recipient of this award if ever there was one, Bill, who'll be honored for both his military service to our country and for promoting human and civil rights in our community, will receive the special award at the annual Human Relations Commission Recognition Reception on Friday, Nov. 16 from 5:50 to 7:30 at the Balboa Park Club.

In a letter to Rider, commission chair Bruce Abrams and executive director Danell Scarborough wrote, "The commission is inspired by the tireless work you have done to support and assist combat veterans. We would like to thank and appreciate you for your compassionate concern and service."

I second that. Thanks, Bill, for all you do for veterans and their families.

As for the namesake of this award, Turnham was a World War II veteran, prisoner of war, and Purple Heart honoree who detailed his story in his book, Death Denied. Turnham's community service included eight years as a HRC commissioner, and membership on numerous community groups, including the San Carlos Community Council, Mission Trails Regional Park and Navajo Community Planners.

* * *

ACVOW has been literally a lifesaver for so many veterans. Its staff members are available to speak, one-on-one, with military personnel and family members to help individuals cope with battlefield related stress. If you or anyone you know exhibits any of the characteristics below, call ACVOW at 858-552-7501:
  • Depression
  • Isolation
  • Rage
  • Alienation: Avoidance of Feelings
  • Survival Guilt
  • Anxiety Reactions
  • Intrusive Thoughts
  • Recurrent, re-experiencing of the trauma
  • Avoidance to the point of having a phobia of places, people, and experiences.
  • Chronic physical signs of hyper-arousal, including sleep problems, trouble concentrating, irritability, anger, poor concentration, blackouts or difficulty remembering things, increased tendency and reaction to being startled, and hyper-vigilance to threat.
ACVOW Locations:

HQ and National Training Center
3508 Seagate Way, Suite160
Oceanside, California 92056
(760) 696-0460

La Jolla VA
Veterans Affairs Healthcare System
3350 La Jolla Village Drive, Room 1580
San Diego, California 92126
(858) 552-7501

Camp Pendleton
Marine Corps Family Services
BAS, 2/4 Marine Reg.
62330 7th St, San Mateo
Camp Pendleton, California 92055
(760) 889-1515

ACVOW staff members also speak on behalf of military personnel and veterans through regular speaking engagements and media appearances. To book an ACVOW speaker for your organization, please email Bill Rider at


  1. I can tell you that award did not come at a cheap price. Bill spends almost all of his time being of service to A.C.V.O.W.. so much so that time with his family is another sacrifice he makes every day of the year. I know this because I am his proud son!

  2. Thanks for the comment. Great to hear from you. You have a remarkable father... but then you already know that!

  3. I didn't realize Bill's son was named Anonymous! Nevertheless what he said was really true. Bill is an almost tireless advocate for vets

  4. Bill Rider is a decorated Marine combat veteran, and has extended his honorable service through ACVOW. He was an upstanding squad leader, courageous in battle and courageous today in his advocacy for veterans of our most recent wars. He knows full well the tremendous sacrifies and attendant adjustment issues. He efforts exemplify the Marine Corps credo of Semper Fidelis - always faithful. I had the honor of serving as Bill's squad grenadier for several months in Vietnam, and am honored to count him as a friend and brother today.
    Eric O. Bergland, C/1/9/3 1967-68

  5. Thanks to all of you for the nice comments about Bill.

  6. Thank you for the post Mr Reno. Having volunteered for and with Bill for over four years I can say that all this is so and much more. Bill's devotion to his goal of service to combat veterans is boundless, and despite his own war wounds, continues to take on the duty of assistance to those who have experienced situations similar to his. Semper Fi William!

    1. Thank you for the comment, David. And thanks for your service to our country and to your fellow veterans!

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