On Veterans Day of 2011, Gov. Sandoval announced a new initiative sponsored by our office intended to highlight the many wonderful contributions made by veterans on behalf of the veteran community within our state. Following the governor's announcement, we initiated the Veteran of the Month program to honor those who have served and who continue to serve the veteran community. In December, we honored our 12th recipient for 2012 and completed our first full year of this new program, and we are excited about continuing this initiative in 2013.The Veteran of the Month program is intended to honor Nevada's veterans who contribute their time and energy to support the veteran and military communities within our state. In addition to honoring those who work so hard within our veteran community, we also hope that the award encourages others to join them. With the first year's award recipients recognized, it is pretty clear that we achieved our goal. The Veteran of the Month program is managed by our office, but we rely on the help of others to help us accomplish program goals. First, we rely on the statewide veteran community to assist in nominating worthy candidates. We also work with the Veterans Services Commission, a body appointed by the governor and legislative leaders to advise our agency, to vote on and approve the award recipients at our quarterly meetings. Once we have the awards approved, we work with the recipient and the broader veteran community to host a ceremony and invite as many people as we can so that the recipients truly know how appreciated they are.The 12 honorees in 2012 were from diverse backgrounds and represented various contributions to the veteran community. We had representatives from most of the branches of services, many service organizations, and from all over the state. We hosted some of the ceremonies at the Nevada State Veterans Home in Boulder City, some at our offices in Reno, one in Elko, and elsewhere. I was particularly proud to honor two Carson City residents in October and November. Gov. Sandoval joined us at the Capitol Building for both, and so did many members of the community. It was great to see so many people take time out of their busy schedules to help us honor local leaders Alan Callanan and Wayne Willson.As we kick off the honors for 2013, we will be making some slight changes to elevate the award's meaning and presentation, and to allow for wider community participation. The honorees for January, February and March have already been selected by the Veterans Services Commission, and the March presentation with take place in Carson City during Veterans and Military Day at the Legislature. We are always trying to find worthy veterans to honor, so if you know of anyone please go to our website and take a look at the nomination process. Nominee should be Nevada residents with an honorable discharge from the U.S. military who have made significant contributions at the local, state or national levels. Because there are so many veterans who work hard to contribute to the veteran community in Nevada, the Veteran Services Commission will make its choice based on the scope and impact of nominees' achievements and the extent to which their efforts benefit and provide inspiration to their community and other veterans. The Veteran of the Month award has been one of my favorite initiatives that we have developed since I started with the Nevada Office of Veterans Services over two years ago. I am very proud of the excellent and ongoing work provided by our teams at the Nevada State Veterans Home, the Veteran Memorial Cemeteries, and our Veteran Advocacy and Support Team, and this award allows us to honor our partners throughout the state as well. • Caleb S. Cage is the Executive Director of the Nevada Office of Veterans Services, appointed by Gov. Brian Sandoval. You can read his blog at http://veterans.nv.gov/blog.
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