Valerie Scheuering is the inaugural female commander of Fernley’s American Legion Gerald C. Daniel Post 37 and said there’s no telling what you can do when you serve.
She deployed during the Gulf War and was also stationed in Germany until right before the Berlin Wall came down, away from her family including two young children. Legion posts nationwide are starting to see more female commanders, and for Scheuering the honor is allowing her to further a main goal.
“To bring in new blood,” she said. “Bring in fresh new ideas. That’s my goal as commander. Do what we do but infuse more ideas.”
The Legion is for any active or inactive veteran who has served during wartime. The Sons of the American Legion is for anyone who has had a family member serve. The two Fernley groups often partner in service, from scholarships, fundraisers and donations to local veteran and family support as well as programs being adopted nationwide.
Post 37 also focuses on flags, such as flagpole raffles, ceremonial flag disposal and learning different flag folding. The post has provided flags to Fallon, Virginia City, Silver Springs and others including installation.
“We get flags from all over that come to us and we burn them ceremoniously,” Scheuering said. “You can bring it to us or bring it to me and I’ll see to it that it’s done.”
She added that the flag in Fallon at the Top Gun Car Wash is what’s called a garrison flag — the largest size flag used by the Army — at 30 feet tall and 50 feet wide. The post recently disposed of four garrison flags from Elko, and Scheuering said the post retires about 1,000 American flags annually. She said she was still a little sore from a recent flag disposal.
Scheuering described what it was like to join the Air Force in 1979 as a woman, how many people didn’t want women there and it felt very divided.
“I bullied them as best as they bullied me,” she said of the men who gave her a hard time. “I could go right back with the best of them.”
Scheuering was a staff sargent who, after a couple years in the field, moved up to become an education and training manager, ensuring the units were trained properly and up to date for the highest level of safety, optimizing processes and procedures along the way.
“They respect me; I respect them,” she said of her current male peers. “We have a lot of fun. We’re comrades in arms. And we all have our war stories.”
Presently, there are eight female veterans including Scheuering at the post.
She also volunteers for the Nevada Veteran’s Coalition and recalled one of their ceremonies at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery, when a Chinook helicopter landed and out came a female pilot. Scheuering was thrilled and impressed as she watched the woman climb up on top of the aircraft to inspect it before taking off.
“We need to bring some women into this,” she said of the newly reformed area districts which are also paying attention to progress. “Many just don’t understand what we do.” She added that they’re one of the most active posts in Nevada. “By showing what we do here in Fernley will hopefully encourage others to beat us at what we’re doing.”
In high school, Scheuering was in the Army ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps), and she said it helped immensely.
“To me, all branches of the service are great branches,” she said of advising youth to consider the military in their future. “Look at the job that you want to do but realize you’re going to get one of the best educations you can get. That education will further as you grow. The sky is the limit for both officers and enlisted.”
She explained how the military’s technical training enabled her to start working right away as a government contractor after leaving the service.
“Men and women in general need to understand what the military is,” she said. “There’s no telling what you can do. It should be a dream. Something that you really want to do. And try it. They need to give it a chance.”
While supporting the nation’s military is key in the long run, she also said it’s up to how far the individual wants to go.
“It’s up to every man and every woman what they want to do,” she said, adding that leaders who have served gain an understanding of why they’re defending their country. “If you want to be president or a join-chief … or a senator — do it.”