The next time a Soldier or Airman becomes frustrated with the military’s Defense Travel System, he or she should contemplate the challenges faced by retired 1st Sgt. Robert “Bob” Veader, the Nevada Army Guard’s transportation officer for more than 16 years during the Global War on Terrorism. Veader retired from his transportation officer position on the last day of 2017 after nearly three decades of Nevada Army Guard military and civilian service.
Veader, 65, of Carson City, made the transportation plans for 36 of the 38 Nevada Army Guard units – more than 4,000 Soldiers – who deployed internationally and domestically from 2001-2017 while working for the United States Property and Fiscal Office. Veader was usually the last Nevadan to bid a unit’s Soldiers farewell on their deployment and the first to welcome them home to the Silver State.
“At times, it could be a heartbreaking and emotional job seeing Soldiers depart,” said Veader, who was a Soldier in the Nevada Army Guard from 1988-2006. “It was definitely nicer to see them returning from the combat theater and coming off the planes.”
The job entailed far more than just getting a group of Soldiers from Nevada to their deployment departure location.
“There is a lot to consider. Not only the transportation of the Soldiers, but the transport of the unit’s freight, weapons and rolling stock as well,” Veader said.
Veader’s tie to the military has spanned his entire life; his father was a warrant officer in the Army and Veader spent his childhood at a series of military installations around the globe. Veader’s dad was stationed at Fort Lewis, Wash., when Bob graduated from Puyallup (Washington) High School in 1970.
With the United States embroiled in Vietnam, Veader was faced with the dilemma of either being drafted into the U.S. Army infantry or voluntarily enlisting as a transportation movement Soldier.
Veader chose the latter and spent the next eight years on active duty at various locations around the world, including Germany and Korea.
With an application to the University of Nevada, Reno, on file, Veader settled down in northern Nevada after his stint in the Army concluded in 1978. He opted not to attend college, however, and began using the experience he had gained in the Army on behalf of Frontier Travel in Carson City.
After a decade in the travel industry, Veader was cajoled by his brother, Paul Veader, to join the Nevada Army Guard in 1988. Paul Veader was in the 321st Signal Company and his platoon leader was then-1st Lt. Mary Devine. Devine is now a colonel and the Deputy United States Property and Fiscal Officer.
Veader’s first job in the Nevada Army Guard was as a clerk in the 150th Maintenance Company in Carson City. Another Soldier in the unit at that time was then Staff Sgt. James Baumann, now the Nevada Guard’s command chief warrant officer.
Veader began working full-time for the Nevada Guard in 1989 as a tools and parts specialist. He began to climb the ranks both in the warehouse and in the Nevada Guard and by 1998 he was the warehouse supervisor and Joint Force Headquarters’ first sergeant. All told, he served as the warehouse supervisor three times during the past three decades, sometimes while also working in transportation positions.
“The fact he served as warehouse supervisor three times is a reflection of his responsibility, accountability and trustworthiness,” said Devine, Veader’s supervisor since 2012. “Due to deployments, he often did double duty and served in two positions because he was the only qualified person available. He ensured the Soldiers had support here so they could do their jobs while deployed.”
Veader was in those same positions in Sept. 2001 when the most impactful single day in Nevada National Guard history since Pearl Harbor occurred – the 9/11 attacks. Veader said the difference in the National Guard before and after the attacks was like night and day.
“9/11 was the turning point that transformed the Nevada Guard,” Veader said. “When I joined the Guard, it was very laid back. When I was first sergeant, anyone could walk in the front door into the headquarters. I had never even heard the term ‘deployment.’
“After 9/11 came an amazing expansion of the Guard; it became a professional fighting force. Today, I believe the Guard is every bit as good as the active-duty Army. The Guard is not what it used to be.”
Veader remained an Army Guard Soldier until his military retirement in 2006. After a short hiatus, he quickly returned to the USPFO – this time clad in civilian clothes – to become the state’s transportation officer once again. His final day was Dec. 31, 2017; he was succeeded by Warrant Officer Candidate Juan Sanchez.
“He’s been a great mentor and friend,” Sanchez said. “I couldn’t have attained my current position without his guidance. I know he’s available to assist if ever needed.”
Devine, set to become the USPFO for Nevada upon the retirement of Col. Felix Castagnola later this year, said the departure of the “one in a million” employee will leave a void in the Army Guard.
“The continuity of knowledge, the ongoing mentoring, the ‘can do’ attitude – all those traits will be missed,” Devine said. “Throughout his career, he carried an overwhelming sense of responsibility and duty for both the state’s Soldiers and the property and fiscal office.”
Veader said his only definite future plans include trips to Hawaii, New Zealand and Italy with his wife, Tamie. One certain stop in Hawaii will be at the Sweet Aloha Baking Company in Maui, which is owned by his daughter, Victoria Briggs. (Veader’s son Ben is a landscaper in Gardnerville; his son John, a Class of 1994 Carson High graduate, passed away in October 2002 in a traffic accident at age 26).
Still spry and energetic, Veader quickly dismissed the question of whether he will return for a fourth stint as the warehouse supervisor with a chuckle.
“Working in the position of transportation officer was one of the best things I’ve done in my life,” Veader said. “But those of us who have worked in the transportation field for most of our lives have some form of wanderlust.
“Now, it’s time to satisfy that wanderlust.”