Major Accomplishments By Year :
During the first half of 2021 Chapter 989 operated under the State COVID-19 mandates emerging only in June to almost now further restrictions. Most of our members have been happy to get their vaccinations. So of what we lost earlier were things like our annual Giving Thanks Dinner and awards ceremony. We did, however, provide scholarships to students at UNR and TMCC during private ceremonies.
With the help of the Wild Whimsical Woman of Somersett, The Beta Gamma Pi Sorority and individual members, our AVVA members were able to provide 12 Nevada National Guard families with holiday dinners, presents and personal items . In addition, this group raised $6200 for additional gifts and cash donations for families in need.
Our monthly (First Friday Brunch Bunch) at the Gold and Silver Restaurant has restarted after several a month hiatus. We are currently able to gather with up to forty 989ers, however reservations are still required. Our First Friday Brunches remain very popular and our members continue looking forward to the monthly get togethers.
We concluded our experiment(s) with zoom meetings in March, opting for butts in the seats and the Bunker is not technology friendly and we couldn’t keep the “Zoomers” on line for any length of time. This was frustrating for all parties.
Our Chapter passed our new 2021-22 budget for the coming year in March and we held our election of officers and board members who assumed office in April. They are:
President: J. R. Stafford
Vice President: John Ostrander
Secretary: Hugh Ricci
Treasurer: John Dickinson
Bob Edwards (elected and then elected to continue his previous position as “Chairman of the Board”)
Norman Allen (appointed and accepted Vice-Chair)
Red Kittell (elected to a two year term)
Susan Malone (elected to a two year term)
David Levine (elected to a two year term)
Not running but concluding the second of a two year term on the Board are:
Michial Nolan was also appointed at an “alternate” Board Member after this election.
We held our National Vietnam Veterans Day event on March 28th at Barkley Ranch County Park Amphitheater. This outdoor event allowed us to have up to 250 attendees with social distancing due to COVID Pandemic restrictions. We will have 14 Outreach tables of local veteran groups set up for informational sharing.
Major Gen. Ondra Barry; adjutant general of the Nevada Army and Air National Guard, was our outstanding keynote speaker. George Malone, ret. LT Col USMC and VVA Chapter 989 Life Member honored the Nevada fallen of the Vietnam War and VVA Chapter 989 Life Member 1st Lt. Andy LePeilbet, (ret) provided closing remarks.
At the end of the speeches, Major Gen. Ondra Barry also be presenting certificates and the DOD Vietnam 50th year commemorative pins to Vietnam Veterans who attended the event.
The Patriot Guard Riders (estimate of 12 strong) also presented a wreath donated by Moana Nursery for the event, which was then escorted it to the site of the new Nevada Veterans Memorial in Sparks for display and a ceremony held there by Sparks Councilman Kristopher Dahir.
Although being severely restricted, our public presence has slowly been expanding. In March we participated in the Veterans Guest House Radiothon, setting up a drive by collection site for individuals to donate to this very worthwhile event. This was our first public outreach event and we had over 12 VVA members show up to help. Other outreaches are still on the back burner. Our normal accesses such as gun shows and Walmart are still not viable.
We began to assume a higher visibility in the community in May as the quarantine was slowly being lifted. Saturday, 15MAY21 found about 15 Chapter 989ers in Hawthorne at the Armed Forces Day Parade and for a visit to the Traveling Wall (that Heals).
29MAY21 found about 12 of us in Virginia City for a Heros Cruise around the city in lieu of a parade.
31MAY21 the Chapter was part of the annual Memorial Day event at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery remembrance ceremony. Following our outreach in Fernley, Chapter 989 hosted a Memorial Day “Cruise” around the State Veterans Home in Sparks. Over 50 classic cars and motorcycles participated in the cruise letting the residents know they were not forgotten on Memorial Day.
Membership has increased to about 215 at last count and our AVVA membership has increased to 21. Our AVVA has been active in supporting the NNSVH, with presentation of puzzles, poinsettias, valentines, and planter boxes this year.
We have been able to make Lemonade out of the lemon that is COVID and just like the veterans we are, even COVID can’t keep Vietnam Veterans down.
As the year 2020 began unfolding, our Chapter was able to hold two meetings (in JAN & FEB) and was then forced to close and isolate right after our March Board of Directors Meeting on 12MAR20. We held Zoom Board meetings or social distanced in President Stafford’s back yard but were unable to hold a Chapter Meeting for three months until June. At that time we held our elections for office. J. R. Stafford continued as President, David Levine as Vice President, and Hugh Ricci as Secretary and Eric Hobson as Treasurer. These results were filed with National in July. John Dickinson stepped down as Board Chair, and Bob Edwards was elected to this position While dark, we continued to keep in touch with members electronically and even did a successful “Buddy Check” (phone tree), to all Chapter Members.
In July, we approved an updated version of the Chapter’s By-Laws. Since June, we have continued to conduct monthly Chapter business meetings and host our traditional, “First Friday” Brunches at the Gold’n Silver Restaurant in Reno while socially distancing. Attendance for both is slowly returning back toward pre-pandemic numbers.
Our membership has increased to 205 members as of October 2020, primarily thanks to the word of mouth of our members promoting our chapter to their friends.
Parades: To date, several parades were cancelled by organizers due to COVID-19 restrictions, and we were unable to participate in three of the five yearly parades we scheduled.
The Armed Forces Day Parade in Hawthorne in May, The Nevada Day Parade in Carson City in October, The Independence Day Parade on July 4th, in Virginia City became a cruise instead of a walking parade and was a huge success.
We participated in the collection of old wreaths from the 2019 Wreaths Across America effort at the Fernley Veterans Memorial Cemetery in January. We also plan to be a part of the laying of 2020 Wreaths again this year if the event is held on 19 December 2020.We participated in the annual Veterans Guest House (VGH) fund raiser Radio-thon, held at the Atlantis Resort and Casino on 06MAR20 collecting funds for the VGH operating costs in 2020 and hope to do so again in 2021. Luckily this happened just before the Covid lock-down.Many in the Chapter attend an “unannounced” and unsanctioned Memorial Day Service at the Northern Nevada State Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Fernley. This event was “unofficial”, and the public just showed up to pay respects while socially distancing. Afterward, five vehicles of Chapter Members went to the State Veterans Home and held an, “impromptu” parade around the facility honoring the residents of the home and letting them know they were not forgotten on this day honoring those who had given their all. We hope to again take part in the service in 2021. Once again, we provided food for the annual Homeless Veterans Stand Down, at the VA Mental Health Clinic in Reno. Unlike other years of just a one day event, this year’s event was a five-day event to comply with the Covid restrictions. The event was held, 21-25SEP20. VVA 989 and our AVVA members prepared 500 bags of “prepackaged” food for homeless vets. Although only about 170 homeless veterans attended the event, the remaining bags of food were left with the VA mental health clinic to be given to homeless vets on an ongoing basis. We hope to be “cooking” breakfast and lunch for the Stand Down in 2021. We intend to present our two $500 scholarships to deserving students at TMCC and University of Nevada, Reno as time and circumstances permit, (perhaps November 2020). This year, our “Giving Thanks Dinner” normally held in November, may not happen, but we will make arrangement to deliver our scholarships to their respective schools as appropriate. Plans continue for our Annual Gary Meckler Holiday Basket project. Traditionally, eight families from the local Army Guard or Air Guard are recipients of the Annual Gary Meckler holiday baskets. The baskets traditionally include all the trimmings for a ham/turkey dinner, donated Christmas trees with decorations and gifts for 19 adults and 15 children.
Northern Nevada State Veterans Home VVA 989 and our AVVA continue to actively support the residents and staff of the Northern Nevada State Veterans Home. VVA 989 sponsored an “Appreciation BBQ Luncheon” for the staff of the Northern Nevada State Veteran’s Home on 02OCT20. Our chapter and AVVA members lauded and served approximately 65 members of the staff of the facility in appreciation for all that they have done to provide continued superior care for our fellow veterans at the home during this trying time.
VVA 989, in partnership with the Reno Woodchucks (non-profit organization) and the Home Depot Foundation provided six outdoor planter boxes for the Northern Nevada State Veterans Home in mid-October 2020. These planter boxes will provide residents an opportunity to plant and harvest their own flowers, herbs and vegetables as weather and the seasons permit.
• March 8th Members assisted “Filling the Boot” at the Atlantis Resort fund raising for the Veterans Guest House.
• March 20th Members participated in Veterans Day at the State Legislature in Carson City.
• March 30th Chapter 989 hosted Vietnam War Veterans Remembrance Day ceremonies at the Reno Event Center honoring Vietnam Veterans in the morning and “All Veterans of All Eras” with a luncheon and program in the afternoon. The morning ceremony honored the 149 Nevadans killed among the 58,318 killed in Vietnam during the war. The Chapter, working with Nevada Department of Veterans Services, hosted over 600 visitors to the indoor Vietnam Museum and Huey Helicopter Static Display and hosted over 25 “Outreach” tables where Veterans Service Organizations (VSO) could provide information to veterans about services and benefits available to them.
• May 25th Chapter 989 participated in the “Summer Salute” honoring Veterans, and providing information for veterans about benefits and programs available to them in the area.
• May 27th Chapter 989 members attended the 2019 Memorial Day program at the Northern Nevada State Veterans Cemetery in Fernley. The Chapter Flag Trailer was a beautiful and effective “static display” for visitors attending the service.
• June 1st. Chapter 989 Color Guard and members of the Chapter participated in the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) Region 8/9 meeting in Sparks at the Nugget.
• June 15th Chapter 989 Co-Hosted a military picnic at Bartley Ranch with the Association of the US Army, the Military Officers of America Assoc. and the United States Navy League, offering inter-military organization opportunities to assist members of all groups camaraderie and exposure to opportunities within all organizations. The picnic also offered fund raising opportunities for all four organizations.
• June 22nd Chapter 989 members and the Flag Trailer participated in the Reno Rodeo Parade. Members handed out G.I. “P-38” (can openers) to veterans along the parade route.
• July 4th Chapter 989 members and the Chapter Flag Trailer participated in the Virginia City Independence Day Parade and handed out G.I. “P-38” (can openers) to veterans along the parade route.
• July 12th Chapter 989 members served over 400 lunches at the Spartan Pledge hosted at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA Hospital) in Reno. The Spartan Pledge is a powerful outreach into the veteran community, urging members to “pledge” to one another not to take their own life by their own hand without contacting that person who they are pledged not to committee suicide to. In addition to serving meals, many members of the Chapter took the pledge that day.
• July 15th – 20th. Chapter President, Past President, Board Chair and Associates of Vietnam Veterans (AVVA) attending the National Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) convention in
Spokane, WA. The summer convention was geared toward the future of the VVA, and possible changes in an exit strategy which may not be necessary in 2028.
• August 3rd. Chapter 989 and the Reno Aces dedicated a POW/MIA Chair of Honor at Greater Nevada Field. The chair is a permanent reminder of the 82,000 possible Prisoners of War / Missing in Action since WWII. It will remain every vacant until the time when our Comrades are returned to our ranks. Chapter members, Bill Elander (former POW at the Hanoi Hilton) and Andy LePeilbet, DSC, SS, PH, CIB participated in the ceremony held during Military Appreciation Night at the Aces Ballpark.
• August 9th Chapter 989 members were invited to visit Harrah’s Military Vehicle Museum in Sparks. Members were treated to vintage military vehicles dating back to 1914, all right here in our own back yard.
• August 10th The Chapter’s Color Guard provided “colors” for the closing night of “Hot August Nights” in Sparks, NV.
• August 26th Members of the Chapter said Good-bye to longtime Chapter member and Chapter Board Member, Gary Meckler at the Northern Nevada Veterans Cemetery. Sgt. Meckler, US Army, succumbed to a long battle with Agent Orange.
• September 6th Members traveled to Carson City to see Governor Steve Sisolak present past Chapter 989 President, Linda Dickinson with Nevada’s Veteran of the Month Award. Past President Dickinson was lauded for her four years at the helm of Chapter 989 and it’s many achievements under her leadership.
• September 13th Members of the Chapter took the Flag Trailer and outreach materials to the Reno Air Race (military appreciation day), and took part in the opening ceremonies and throughout the day. Members provided outreach materials to Air Race attendees, and veterans of other organizations also attending.
• September 20th 21 Members of the Chapter served approximately 550 breakfasts and lunches at the annual Homeless Veterans Stand Down in Reno. Beginning days prior, members shopped, cooked and transported and served meals to homeless vets and staff. This effort is made possible by a grant from Walmart who has support our efforts to feed veterans over the years.
• September 21st Members of the Color Guard provided “Colors” for the opening of the Walk for Alzheimer’s at the Sparks Marina.
• October 3rd Chapter 989 Color Guard presented the “Colors” for the Northern Nevada State Veterans Home “Open House” at 36 Battle Born Way in Sparks. This opening was a celebration of the passing of all permits and “paperwork” clearing the way for additional admissions of eligible veterans.
• October 26th Members of Chapter 989 and the Chapter Flag Trailer (with newly minted banners) participated in the Nevada Day Paraded in Carson City. Members walked the parade route along Carson Street and handed out G.I. “P-38” (can openers) to veterans along the way.
• VVA 989 received the Veteran Supporter of the Month award on April 24th at the Capital Building.Approximately 30 of our members were able to attend and be honored by Governor Sandoval and NDVS Director Kat Miller.
• We participated in Carson City, at Chapter 388’s Vietnam Veteran Remembrance Day Ceremonies on March 31.
• Several of our members provided assistance to the Moving Wall on Minden, Nevada in late May and early June. Members provided 24 hour security, aide and assistance to organizers, and served as docents providing assistance to visitors seeking information about the Wall, or finding the names of the fallen.
• We co-sponsered a Summer Picnic with several other veteran organizations:MOAA, AUSA and the Navy League.
• We have participated in several parades that included the Nevada Day Parade in Carson City, Reno Veterans Day Parade, and Sparks Hometowne Christmas Parade.
• We also participated in an Agent Orange awareness program at the Veterans Guest House on VeteransDay, and Wreaths Across America.
• Our Color Guard did the opening presentation for Reaching for Zero, suicide awareness brunch at the Governor’s Mansion at the State Capital.
• We provided Holiday Baskets of food and presents for several local National Guard families in need.
• We were able to have two delegates at this VVA National Convention in New Orleans.
• We received 1000 mens dress ties donated to the chapter which we were able to distribute to two college vet clubs, two veteran resource groups and two veteran assistance groupsfor veterans going to job interviews or needing them for their work.
• We participated in the annual VA Homeless Veteran Stand Down on September 22nd.Our chapter prepared breakfast for 260 attendees.Breakfast consisted of breakfast burritos (eggs, sausage and beans) hash browns, juice and fruit.All this was done over outside grills by 12 members and 3 supporters.
• On September 28, 29, and 30 we partnered with the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno to host the Take Me Home Huey Project.We had an outreach table outside with information about our chapter and VVA national as well as handing out DOD commemorative pins and literature.
• We have been promoting Suicide Prevention Month in September.One of our members has been named as a liaison to the Suicide Prevention committee at the Reno VA.
• Chapter 989 has become a commemorative partner with Department of Defense to recognize Vietnam Veterans.
• Several of our members have been participating in the Veterans In Care (VIC) program, partnering with Nevada Department of Veterans Service (NDVS) to recognize veterans in assisted or long term care settings with our color guard presenting colors.The most recent ceremony helped honor the oldest Nevada veteran, a WWII WAC.
• Several of our members have registered as unpaid veteran lobbyists for this legislative session. On March 15th we participated in the VAMDAL (Veteran and Military Day at the Legislature).
• We participated in the Reno Rodeo Parade in June and the Virginia City 4th of July Parade, with our memberspassing out Vietnam Poppies.
• Our Color Guard presented colors at the opening parade for Hot August Nights in Sparks, on Friday and Saturday. We are becoming a crowd favorite, according to the master of ceremonies.We performed an Agent Orange ceremony on Veterans Day at the Veterans Guest House.
• We have also donated to Adopt a Vet dental program, Veterans’ Guest House as well as several non-profits that feed the homeless.
• The Chapter has just completed its third year of providing local colleges with student scholarships for veterans returning to college.This year we gave out eight scholarships of $500 each.
• Our Vice-Chair Dee Garder and our President Linda Dickinson have been active on a committee to create a Women Veterans Memorial Garden at the VA hospital in Reno. The garden will be at the emergency room entrance, next to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Garden.