VA Palo Alto Health Care System
Veteran Volunteer Celebrates 100 Years of Life
The VA offers many programs and services to care for our nation’s Veterans, but it is the many volunteers who bring a special touch to customer service at every VA hospital around the country. For one volunteer at VA Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS), the special touch comes in the form of 100-years of wisdom.
“My primary doctor said I had too much time on my hands and the VA is a good place to get a job,” said WWII Veteran Bill Difu, when asked how he started volunteering to give out coffee and snacks to Veterans waiting for their appointments.
Difu has been volunteering at VAPAHCS for nearly two years. He celebrated 100 years of age on November 19, 2019, with friends and family at the campus’ Fisher House II. Executive leadership for VAPAHCS joined a special lunch held in honor of Mr. Difu, offering a few words of gratitude for his continued service to our Veterans.
Born in San Francisco in 1919, Difu was an all-around athlete who played basketball, baseball as well as track and field. His early sports career earned nine champions in basketball and baseball combined, earning him an induction in the Hall of Fame at Mission High School in San Francisco, Calif.
Taking the usual path for most men of that era, in 1941 he joined the U.S. Army’s 25th Infantry Division and 27th Infantry Regiment. He took part in the famous Battle of Guadacanal, where he was wounded while on the New Georgia Islands. Difu received a Purple Heart, Oak Leaf Cluster, and a Bronze Star for his meritorious achievements on the battlefield. He was finally discharged in 1945 and returned home to work in the Naval Ship Yards.
It was home in San Francisco where he met his wife of 56 years and had his five children. They eventually moved to Sunnyvale, where he retired from a career in the Cupertino School District. He now has twelve grandchildren, twenty great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild.
Difu now lives in Santa Clara, where he divides his time between his family and volunteering. He also is active in two social groups, the Friends of Marino Pieretti and Old Timers Baseball Association of San Francisco.
When asked about the best part of volunteering, he said, “A lot of the Veterans have something to say. They like to ask me what I did [in the military] and I give them a little bit of what I went through. This job gives me that privilege.”
Find out how you can give back on the VAPAHCS Voluntary Service website.