The general public knows the combination of letters “USO.” Many even know the type of work the USO is involved in. But if one were to ask those individuals what the letters stand for, and where the organization is located in Southern Nevada, the answer might just involve a blank stare unless the person being questioned is involved with the local military or veterans community.
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Chuck N. Baker
It was a world of initials in May when the Department of Veterans Affairs teamed up with the Blinded Veterans Association and the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command and the National Football League to discuss traumatic brain injury and its affect on blindness. The occasion was the annual convention of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology held in Denver this year.
The National Association of Broadcasters recently held its annual convention in Las Vegas. As part of the event, the trade group sponsored a seminar to advise employers about the value of hiring veterans. The audience included many veterans as well as employers. Employers said they were eager to hire qualified candidates who had military backgrounds.
By the time this is published, I will have attended Veterans and Military Day at the Legislature in Carson City. At the Veterans Wall at the state Capitol building, Gov. Brian Sandoval and other leaders will address the attendees, and other elected officials will be available to meet with veterans and active-duty personnel.
Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., recently held a veterans roundtable in Las Vegas to discuss happenings on Capitol Hill. She is on the House Veterans Committee, and is the ranking member on memorial services.
A website called 4vets.biz reports it helps veterans receive discounts from select local and national companies. The site lists businesses that voluntarily offer discounts and reduced fees.
The legislative chairwoman of the Society of Military Widows, Nevada’s Janet Snyder, is well-versed on local veterans issues and travels across the country gathering information and promoting legislation that helps members and veterans in general. Recently, she participated in a Veterans Affairs’ Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships conference call. The topic was “Journeying Together: An Overview of Partnerships with Local Clergy, VA Chaplains, and Community Leaders in Caring for Our Returning Combat Veterans.”
Last month I wrote about Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald’s plans to bring more medical doctors and other health professionals into the VA system. One of the items in his broad outlook includes the government expanding its student loan repayment program.
Last month I wrote that there was more to come concerning the new Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert A. McDonald. At a press conference at the VA medical facility in North Las Vegas this past summer, I asked him how he planned to bring in new doctors when the government pays much less than the private sector. He said he was considering a plan to help pay off student loans if medical doctor interns would sign up with the VA, but he gave no details.
Recently, two conventions of organizations that serve blind individuals were held in Nevada.
Some years ago I faithfully attended the annual Comic-Con gathering in San Diego with my young son, a fan of Superman, Batman and Spider-Man, to be sure. Short for “comic book convention,” the international event has since grown into what is probably the largest pop culture convention in the U.S., if not the world. This year, 130,000 individuals showed up, hundreds of them in costume depicting superheroes, Harry Potter characters, Ninja Turtles, Wonder Woman, Usagi Yojimbo of Japanese fame and many others.
The GI Bill that provides financial assistance for education is one of the more successful government programs ever put into action.
Recent news reports suggesting the Department of Veterans Affairs has neglected veterans, and in some cases been responsible for the death of several individuals who served our nation, is cause for great concern. It’s interesting that while many states, notably Arizona, have been named as having deficient VAs, Nevada has thus far escaped national coverage concerning the death of a female veteran here some months ago whose friends suggested may have been because of neglect.
I’ve written about a few motion-picture-based organizations that attempt to help individuals break into the movie business. Although they exist to serve a wider audience, they do, and may still have, veterans sections that work to help that specific segment of the star struck who have served in the military.
Civilians might refer to newly minted veterans as “potential employees.” But Col. Barry R. Cornish of Nellis Air Force Base refines their status by calling them “our region’s hidden tech workforce.”
Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Isabel Duff, director of the Veterans Administration Southern Nevada Healthcare System, who was named to the position almost one year ago when the former director retired. The interview took place on my radio show.
Despite its name implying it’s strictly a U.S. veterans group, the American Legion is actually an international organization, with expatriot members living around the world.
When it comes to thinking about service organizations that exist to serve veterans, most individuals would name the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars and a handful of others that specifically and directly assist veterans and their families.
Last month, Las Vegas City Hall was the site of a meeting focusing on how effective the Department of Veterans Affairs’ regional benefits office in Reno is serving Southern Nevada veterans. The VA Reno field office is one of the most underperforming in the nation, and the hearing examined what changes need to be made to better serve veterans in the state.
At an installation breakfast of officers of the Jewish War Veterans last month, Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., told members that she sits on the House Veterans Affairs Committee “and I requested that committee because in District 1, there are a number of veterans and I wanted to be in a position where I could fight for those who deserved the best services and the best attention because of all the sacrifices they made for us over the years and let me tell you that I will always be there as your advocate.”
Two retired military officers recently presided over a conference in Las Vegas to address the fact that although the U.S. boasts a highly skilled and professional force of soldiers, airmen and Marines, there are problems lurking in future recruitment.
The Disabled American Veterans is one of the leading veterans service organizations in the state and the nation. Each year the Nevada DAV honors local employers that establish programs that reach out to veterans and seek to hire them for responsible jobs.
When it comes to establishing courts that hear cases only from military veterans, there are some individuals who take umbrage and feel that veterans should be tried only in traditional courts.
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