I recently wrote about an event we host every other year in Carson City called Veterans and Military Day at the Legislature. Working together with the Nevada National Guard, we hosted this event on Wednesday of this last week. I’ve been to several of these over the years, and I think that this year’s was one of the best we have ever had.
As I explained in my earlier column, there are several reasons we hold this event during every legislative session. First, it allows us to bring together the many veteran- and military-related organizations throughout the state to focus on our legislative agenda; it helps to shine a light on the many ongoing activities we and our partner organizations are doing to serve the veterans of Nevada; and it helps us to provide the Nevada public an opportunity to engage with the veteran community and to see the latest capabilities of the Nevada National Guard. We accomplished all of this and more with this year’s event and have opened the door to even greater success in the future.
The state Building and Grounds had just completed renovation on the Veterans Hall in Carson, and it was beautiful. But with over a hundred veterans and supporters in attendance, it was standing room only pretty quickly. One of our goals for this year was to bring in as many organizations that work to serve Nevada’s veterans as we possibly could. We achieved this goal, with members and state, local, and national leaders from Veteran Service Organizations, service providers at Nevada’s colleges and universities, representatives from the Nevada National Guard, members of the community, and more.
One of the reasons that we had such great turnout was because of the vibrant and active veteran community in Nevada. Another reason was that this event always attracts high-profile speakers. Gov. Brian Sandoval delivered remarks about his own involvement in veteran- and military-related initiatives and efforts and thanked the audience for their service to the country and state. Carson City Mayor Bob Crowell addressed the audience about his own service and about several efforts we have worked on in recent months. Assemblyman Elliot Anderson, a Marine veteran who also serves on the Veterans Services Commission, excused himself from his committee hearings to come over and discuss his veteran legislation that is under consideration this session as well. It was great to have them and our other speakers throughout the morning.
Gov. Sandoval also took time out of his schedule to present the Nevada Veteran of the Month Award for the month of March. David Cairns of Reno was in attendance and accepted the award with his wife and son by his side. You could not ask for a better place to make such a presentation, and we were grateful to have the governor there to make the presentation.
After the Veteran of the Month Award presentation, we continued through our other planned activities. We held a moment of silence for the Marines who recently passed in the training accident in Hawthorne, Amy Roby from Western Nevada College’s “Always Lost: A Meditation on War” exhibit gave a moving presentation, the group went over the veteran-related legislation being considered during this session, and we had an open forum for questions and concerns within the veteran community. At the end of the morning’s events, Brig. Gen. William Burks and I signed a memorandum of understanding that focused the missions of our two agencies around the strategic priorities developed within the Green Zone Initiative as well.
As the morning came to a close, we walked across Carson Street to the Legislature. It was great to see all of the units and service members out on the grounds with the latest in military equipment on display. Once in the Legislature, we went to the Assembly and then the Senate to accept a joint resolution honoring Nevada’s fallen service members. This presentation is always a solemn one, and particularly so this year with the resolution being accepted by Gold Star Mother Sally Wiley and Burks.
After the fallen were honored, many veterans and members of the community gathered together for a luncheon to conclude the formal portion of the event. It was a great place to catch up, to discuss, and to remember together. After the luncheon, part of the group attended a hearing in the Assembly Education Committee, Assemblyman Anderson’s committee, to hear two military- and veteran-related bills that he had scheduled especially for Veterans and Military Day at the Legislature. It was an absolutely perfect way to conclude this very special day.
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.