The Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe honored its veterans Friday during a one-hour ceremony at the tribal gym by recognizing the men and women who served in all branches of the armed forces.
The annual “A Salute to our Veterans” also remembered veterans who died both during and after their service. Brenda Henry, a retired master sergeant who spent almost three decades in the Nevada Army National Guard, is president of the Pyramid Lake Veterans and Warriors organization which represents Native American veterans.
“I’m just a humble person,” said Henry in describing her military service. “I just spent 27 years of my life in the Nevada National Guard, three of those years in the Air Guard and the remaining 24 in the Army National Guard. I’m not used to stepping up and doing a speech.”
Henry said veterans have different reasons why they enlisted. She asked the veterans in the audience to raise their hands when she asked in which wars they fought. A number of hands were raised from those who served in Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan but none from World War II or Korea. She then looked at a group of the younger veterans who were deployed to either Iraq or Afghanistan.
“You guys are my heroes,” Henry said. “I have much respect for you guys because you a served in combat. For myself, I didn’t see combat. I spent 27 years in the military in a support position.”
Henry, who served most of her time in the communications field, enlisted in the Nevada National Guard when she was 21 years old and retired in 2010. She said the years passed quickly.
“I know we are referred to as ‘Weekend Warriors’ — one weekend a month and 15 days a year — but we did our job. We were here to support the active duty when they deployed. Our jobs were as important as not being on active duty.”
Many of the military men and women like Henry who served in the Nevada National Guard also held technician positions, a civilian position that still required the employee to wear a uniform, take required military courses and pass the annual physical fitness test. For many years, Henry was the full-time manager of the Visual Information section in Carson City which provided distance learning presentations from National Guard training centers, produced and edited presentations for internal and external audiences and worked with other agencies to share information for various programs.
At times, though, Henry said since she did not serve on a combat tour, the VI manager periodically had a difficult time thinking of herself as a veteran. Others strongly assured Henry she was indeed a veteran.
“Others have told me there’s more to being a veteran that being in combat troops,” she said. “Not everybody’s in combat. There are support groups, administration, logistics and transportation. We all play a part in ensuring our soldiers are successful and safe, and they have everything they need when they are deployed.”
After Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists hijacked four jetliners and crashed two into the World Trade Center, a third into the Pentagon and the fourth in a western Pennsylvania field after passengers wrestled controls of the plane, Henry said individuals or units were deployed to fight the War on Terror.
“Everybody was trying to get into a unit to deploy,” she said of the activations to either Iraq or Afghanistan. “I even tried, but I was a senior NCO (noncommissioned officer) at the time, and it was difficult to leave,” she recalled but then added what the command sergeant major told her. “You are needed back here to support the soldiers.”
Henry put her career into perspective and where she was needed the most.
“I am proud of my service,” she said, “We all served.”
Henry told the veteran she’s still involved with the military community because of what many of them did by going to a war zone. She re-emphasized the role of military personnel used in support roles.
“We need to recognize these people,” she said. “They were just as important to our well-being and our service time as anyone else. We all signed on that dotted line. We are all veterans and need to be proud of our service.”
Vice Chairman Andy Hicks read a proclamation issued by President Joe Biden for Veterans Day. In part it states “Our military families, caregivers, and survivors also answer the call to serve. I remember so clearly the pride I felt in our son Beau during his service in Iraq as well as those mornings I saw the First Lady saying a prayer for his safe return. Our veterans and their families give so much to our Nation, and we owe them a debt we can never fully repay.
“As a Nation, we have many obligations, but we only have one truly sacred obligation: to prepare and equip the brave women and men we send into harm’s way and to care for them and their loved ones when they return home.
“Since the beginning of my Administration, we have worked to make good on that promise, passing nearly 30 bipartisan laws to support our veterans and service members and their families, caregivers, and survivors. That includes the PACT Act — the most significant effort in our Nation’s history to help millions of veterans exposed to toxic substances during their military service.
“Since I signed the PACT Act into law last year, more than 478,000 veterans and survivors are already receiving benefits — ensuring that veterans exposed to burn pits and other harmful substances and their loved ones get access to the care and support they need.”