Though there is often talk of honoring veterans for their service, many veterans are still in need of aid throughout the country. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) can alleviate some of the needs veterans have, but the support of others is required in order to provide veterans with the care they truly need. For the members of Hearts for Veterans, being able to provide this help to veterans throughout Northern California and beyond has been their mission since being founded in 2017.

In 2014, Claudio Calvo, a veteran of the Vietnam War, underwent quadruple bypass surgery in San Francisco. Having been promised that veterans would receive a heart pillow to aid in recovery, Claudio was immensely disappointed to awaken from surgery only to discover that he had not received one. Sharing in his disappointment was Claudio’s daughter, Christina. After speaking with the VA and learning that there simply were not enough funds for the pillows, Claudio and Christina set out together to ensure that veterans would receive their promised heart pillows. After a lengthy process of trying to find the right people to speak to at the VA, Claudio and Christina were able to start working towards their goal of providing heart pillows. In their first delivery, before the official founding of Hearts for Veterans, the father-daughter duo was able to provide the VA with 40 heart pillows. Once founded in 2017, Hearts for Veterans began providing even more pillows and broadening their range throughout Northern California.

In the time since, Hearts for Veterans has worked to expand the ways it can help veterans get the assistance they need. In addition to their heart pillows, Hearts for Veterans has been able to start assisting veterans financially. Many veterans are able to find housing through the VA, but they may need assistance with their bills and other fees that come with being housed. Through fundraisers such as their annual fundraiser at Third Street Aleworks, mechanical bull rides at the Country Summer Music Festival at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, and even tables at events such as the Windsor Chili Cook Off, Hearts for Veterans has been able to provide financial support to many veterans in Sonoma County, as well as several neighboring counties such as Marin.

Though the COVID pandemic took its toll on Hearts for Veterans, they have been able to continue offering their services to veterans everywhere. As they continue to grow, Hearts for Veterans hopes to continue offering its current services, while also offering new services such as supplemental income to veterans in need, childcare for veterans with young children, and more. Eventually, Hearts for Veterans hopes to be able to support all of Northern California, and from there, the rest of the United States.

At its heart, the goal of the members of Hearts for Veterans has always been to bring joy and peace of mind to their fellow veterans and brothers- and sisters-in-arms. With veterans of branches from the Marines, to the Coast Guard, to the Army and the Air Force, Hearts for Veterans is full of passionate people ready to help. Claudio notes that he has run into many of the veterans that have been helped by Hearts for Veterans, and has been overwhelmed by the gratitude the veterans show. “I can remember one particular veteran who received his pillow and teared up immediately. ‘People do care,’ he said. That is our goal, to show that we love and care for our fellow veterans,” Claudio says.

Though Claudio and Christina were the co-founders of the organization, they are not alone in their efforts to bring help to veterans. Joining them are Kevin Wodlinger of Amaturo Sonoma Media Group, whose experience in the field of radio has been invaluable in spreading the word about Hearts for Veterans. On the legal side, Daniel Simonds of the Army Reserve Judge Advocate General’s Corps is able to ensure veterans and employers remain safe from lawsuits. Additional key members have included Anne Pitts of Shiloh Grapes; Christina’s husband, Shaun Offutt; Shawn Hansen, Local Veterans Employment Representative; and Alvin Myers, Financial Advisor, who is charged with heart pillow deliveries.

At the end of the day, it is crucial that our veterans are never forgotten. They have sacrificed much in the line of duty, and often need that little bit of extra assistance when they get back home. Hearts for Veterans seeks to provide that aid, and they hope to be able to work together with the residents of Windsor to see that goal accomplished. To the people of Windsor, Claudio says: “Don’t forget that even if we’re not sending troops off to the front lines, we should continue to support our veterans. ‘Thank you for your service’ has started to fall out of fashion lately, and some vets have stopped wearing identifying gear. Nevertheless, we should continue to support them in whatever way we can. As a Vietnam veteran myself, I hope to give other veterans the care they need.”

If you would like to support Hearts for Veterans, please visit their website at

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