Richard "Sunny" Farrand is known throughout California for his advocacy on behalf of veterans.

Legionnaire now among 10 finalists for $30k grant

Richard "Sunny" Farrand, a Legionnaire known throughout California for his advocacy and willingness to help a fellow veteran, is now among 10 finalists to receive a $30,000 grant from the Champions of Care Challenge - a contest sponsored by Health Mart Pharmacy to recognize local unsung heroes whose actions create healthier families, workplaces and neighborhoods.

Legionnaires are encouraged to visit the Champions of Care Challenge website and vote for Farrand, who made the "final cut" for the grant this weekend when the field was narrowed from 15 to 10 finalists. Votes can be re-cast every 16 hours. Voting ends March 30 ,and a winner will be named March 31.

Farrand designated the Department of California's Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Commission to receive the $30,000 for him. The grant would fund the department's veterans service officers, who work free of charge on behalf of veterans to help them navigate the VA benefits system. It would also allow Farrand and his cadre of service officers to reach a larger population of veterans who need their help.

A Vietnam veteran, Farrand's motto when it comes to advocacy and outreach is to "get there early and leave late." He's a fixture at military bases in the state, hosting barbecues for wounded warriors, generating donations and comfort items on their behalf through the Legion's Operation Comfort Warriors, and providing a sympathetic ear and counsel to any veteran who just needs someone to talk to.

Farrand has helped restore a stolen Purple Heart medal for a veteran whose house was robbed while he was away with his family on vacation. He then volunteered to house-sit for that family when they went on vacation the following year.

Visit to vote and continue to vote for Farrand in the contest.