Veteran of the Year Luncheon logo

The San Mateo County Veterans Commission at its second annual Veteran of the Year Luncheon will honor two residents and a Peninsula church for their significant efforts to improve the quality of life for those who served in the military.

The Veterans Commission will honor Romie Bassetto as Veteran of the Year, LeAnn Thornton as Patriot of the Year and Central Peninsula Church as Enterprise of the Year at a luncheon on Thursday, November 9. The ceremony, which is open to the public, will include short video vignettes about each of the honorees and a keynote speech by retired U.S. Navy Admiral James O. Ellis, Jr., an Annenberg Distinguished Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

The Commission selected Bassetto for his dedication to veteran causes and organizations.  After serving in the U.S. Army in Vietnam, Bassetto promised to never let another generation of veterans be treated the way he and other Vietnam veterans were treated upon their return. He has dedicated his life after service to this cause. On average, Bassetto volunteers 220 hours each month, which includes multiple leadership positions in the American Legion Post 105 in Redwood City, the Palo Alto VA Hospital in Menlo Park. He also helps organize annual celebrations for Veterans Day in Redwood City and at the Golden Gate National Cemetery.

Thornton was named Patriot of the Year for her tireless volunteer efforts as the Family Support Specialist with the United Service Organizations (USO) at San Francisco International Airport. Her countless hours as a volunteer for the organization earned her the honor of USO Volunteer of the Year in 2014.  She is most proud of her role with the Families of the Fallen Response Team, coordinating the arrival and plane-side dignified transfer of all fallen military personnel at SFO. Thornton also coordinates the Hillsborough “Adopt-a-Unit” program that partners the town of Hillsborough with the U.S. Army 101st Airborne Division. The program sends care packages to military members during deployments, supporting the soldiers and their families at their home base in Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Central Peninsula Church will be honored as Enterprise of the Year for its ongoing commitment to helping improve the lives of veterans in San Mateo County.  The church’s Veterans and Military Ministry provides care and moral support to veterans and military and sends care packages to up to 500 active duty military units annually. The church supported the American Legion Traveling Vietnam Wall event by supplying a hospitality tent and donated 150 backpacks packed with supplies for homeless veterans to the San Mateo County Stand Down event. When asked, the church will help newly housed veterans get essential housing needs. The members have even personally taken veterans shopping for these household items. 

The 2nd Annual Veteran of the Year luncheon will be held at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, November 9, at the Marriott Hotel in San Mateo. Tickets for the luncheon are $60/person or $50/veterans and can be purchased at

Media Contact: Marci Dragun, Senior Legislative Aide at 650-599-1021 or