Having just completed my calendar “Year End” (Q-2) Chapter report for the Governor’s Veterans Services Commission, I began reflecting on how much we have accomplished this quarter and for the entire year, despite COVID and other challenges in 2021.
As I began recalling the year’s events, I knew I wanted to share them with you, so I began making the list separating events with a semi-colon. To my surprise the list went on for over a page, single spaced and was also most difficult to read. For both of our benefits, I then went to bullet items which is easier to follow, but still long. Bottom line? Looking back over 2021, I am pleased to remind everyone what we accomplished.
- We successfully launched an upgrade of the Chapter’s website, VVAreno989.org, which is providing valuable information to our Chapter membership and to veterans of all eras
- We still held twelve “First Friday” Brunches
- Held twelve Board meetings and several “special finance” meetings
- Held eleven VVA Sierra Nevada Chapter 989 meetings
- Held eight AVVA meetings
- Participated in five parades
- Participated in a couple of COVID “Cruises” too
- We held the first official gathering of 250 plus (socially distanced) participants in an outside venue in Washoe County. This, as the COVID lockdown eased when we did the Vietnam Veterans Remembrance Day Event (VRE) at the Hawkins Amphitheater at Bartley Ranch
- We also worked with the Reno Aces and rededicated our POW/MIA Chair of Honor at Greater Nevada Field
- We sent representatives to both State AND National VVA/AVVA functions and attended a regional VVA meeting in Reno
- We continued to do our “outreaches” at by-monthly Gun Shows
- We also supported Military Appreciation Day at the Reno Air Races
- We supported the Veterans Guest House Radiothon
- We supported the Memorial Day Remembrance at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery (NNVMC) in Fernley, and we then hosted a “Memorial Day Cruise” for the Veterans at the Northern Nevada State Veterans Home in Sparks (NNSVH)
- With the help of the Nevada Woodchucks and Home Depot, we delivered six custom made outdoor Planter Boxes and planting soils to the NNSVH
- Working with partners at Home Depot, we delivered and built patio furniture and umbrellas for the NNSVH
- We decorated three wings of the NNSVH with no less than nine fully decorated Christmas trees and holiday decor. Some of the trees and decorations were also donated from our friends at the Home Depot stores or the Katie Grace Foundation
- We delivered over 780 gallons of hand sanitizer from the Katie Grace Foundation to the NNSVH and Veterans Guest House
- We held an impromptu Hot August “Afternoons” Classic Car show and Ice Cream Social for the residents of the NNSVH
- We delivered petfood and supplies from the Nevada Humane Society in Reno to the Douglas County Fair Grounds for displaced wildfire victims
- We supported the 9-11 “Memorial Ruck” with our Flag Trailer, snacks, water and as a backdrop for services adjacent to the Nevada Memorial Plaza in Sparks
- We provided Chapter Color Guard support for NDVS events including the openings of the National Conference of State Directors of Veterans Services at the Peppermill
- We also provided Color Guard Support for VVA Region 8-9 Conference in Sparks
- We found time for a Chapter “field trip” and BBQ at the US Coast Guard Station at Lake Tahoe
- We were honored by the Army Guard Family Support Center for our Chapter’s “support” of their efforts
- Several of our number were also honored by the Governor being recognized as Veterans of the Month (VOM) or Veteran Supporter of the Month (VSM)
- We were honored by the Sierra Nevada Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) with a wonderful dinner at the Bunker
- We presented two Scholarships to deserving UNR and TMCC students
- We “Trademarked” the name: “From CAMOS to Classrooms”
- We held our first Scholarship Fundraising Gala which raised $30K for future veteran scholarships
- We began a “Donuts and Discussion” group for Chapter members disgusted after the August military debacle in Afghanistan
- Working with Comstock Quilters, we presented ninety-six “Quilts of Valor” to residents at the NNSVH
- We continued the annual work of the Gary Meckler Memorial Holiday Gift Basket Program for veteran families in need working through the Army Guard Family Support Center
- We helped pick up the old wreaths from “Wreaths Across America” in 2020 in January 2021, and we helped place wreaths in December 2021 at the NNVMC.
For those of you who are still “tracking,” a few of the things for the third quarter of VSC calendar and the first quarter of the Chapter’s 2022 calendar year are:
- Brunches, Baard, and Chapter Meetings
- Take down and store Christmas Decorations at the NNSVH
- Pick up the old wreaths (goat food) in Fernley in January
- Continue planning for, and then put on, a Vietnam Veterans Remembrance Day Event on 26 March 2022
- Present DOD 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War Pins to residents at the NNSVH on 29 March 2022
- Begin the search and nominating process for April Chapter elections. As some of you know, some of our officers (having served well and honorably over many years) are moving on and we are looking for a few good men or women to fill in the projected vacancies
- 2022 is the 15th Anniversary of the Chapter and we are looking for an appropriate anniversary celebration later in the year
- Who is up for another Scholarship Gala later in the year?
- …And, the list goes on.
The bottom line here is VVA Sierra Nevada Chapter 989 is probably the busiest and one of the most recognized Veterans Service Organizations (VSO) in the Reno area. The Chapter’s work (and play) is something that comes with your membership, and it is up to you as to what you choose to contribute.
“I’m honored to be your President and thank all of you who participated in many of the events the Chapter took on during 2021. I also look forward to your new or continued support in the coming year.”
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas – Happy Holidays – and a Happy New Year.
J. R. Stafford
President VVA 989