Centenarian Bea Cohen has already spent a lifetime serving her country, but the 102-year-old World War II veteran -- who has worked for more than seven decades supporting the U.S. military and its veterans -- says she still has more to give, KCET reports.
Last month, Cohen -- who is a resident of Los Angeles and is believed to be California's oldest living female veteran -- was honored for her wartime contributions at a state Capitol celebration during Women's Military History Week, My Military Videos reports.
She was also named one of KCET's Local Heroes of 2012.
During World War II, Cohen enlisted in the U.S. Army and was sent to England as a private first class. Her duties there included working in the communications department with top-secret documents and kitchen patrol, the LA Times reports.
Born in Romania in 1910, Cohen -- who immigrated to the United States in 1920 -- said she joined the army because she wanted to give back to her adopted country.
"As an immigrant, I am proud to be an American by choice," she told KCET. "When I went into the service, I didn't ask them what the benefits were. I wanted to serve, to pay back for allowing me to become an American."
As a veteran, Cohen has been actively involved in many philanthropic organizations, including the Jewish War Veterans Auxiliary, where she served as its chairperson for child welfare. For almost five decades, Cohen also took upholstery classes, making wheelchair and walker bags, as well as robes and blankets, for veterans.
"[Veterans] need to be recognized. Never to forget them," Cohen told My Military Videos.
According to KCET, Cohen was also involved with the United Cerebral Palsy/Spastic Children's Foundation for more than 35 years.
"Bea has always been a giver," 84-year-old World War II veteran Stephen Rosmarin, who has known Cohen for more than six decades, told the LA Times. "She's been doing great work and hasn't stopped. She gives us all that energy to keep going."
Though Cohen became legally blind in 1990 and lost her husband, Marine gunnery sergeant Ray Cohen, in 2003, the sprightly centenarian has not slowed down.
She continues to do upholstery and still attends ex-POW meetings at the Veterans Home of California in West Los Angeles, among other activities aimed at supporting veterans.
When asked what she would like to accomplish in 2012, Cohen said she wants to "collect clean, white socks for homeless veterans" and to meet First Lady Michelle Obama to thank her "for helping to support our veterans".
"What she has running for gallons in her veins is a love for veterans," said Jeanne Bonfilio, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Veterans Affairs.
For more on Bea Cohen, watch this video about her wartime contributions on the My Military Videos blog.
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