weather icon Partly Cloudy

Love for fellow veterans serves Parker well

Nothing in the world can stop Brad Parker from assisting at the Nevada State Veterans Home in Boulder City.

Not a broken leg. Not even cancer.

“I just do it out of the love of my heart,” he said. “I enjoy it because no matter how bad you think you’ve got it, you come here and you realize that others have had it a lot worse. A lot of these guys and ladies are World War II vets and they had life so much more rough.”

For the past 10 years, the 50-year-old Parker has been volunteering at the veterans home, sharing laughs and stories with those who served like he did. And every Wednesday night from 6:30-7:30, Parker picks up a microphone and calls out cards during their weekly Pokeno game.

A veteran who served during the Gulf War in the early 1990s, Parker said he relates well to the men and women he entertains every week.

As a 17-year-old from Phoenix, Parker embarked on a 20-year career in the U.S. Coast Guard that would take him to Washington, Oregon, California, Florida and Texas. In 1993, he and his family were transferred to Loran Station in Searchlight. Since then, Boulder City has been their home.

Even after Parker was transferred to Oakland, Calif., in 1997 for his final three years in the service, his family stayed in Boulder City. They didn’t plan on going anywhere once he returned in 2000.

“We fell in love with Boulder City and we stayed here,” Parker recalled. “This is the longest place I’ve ever lived.”

Of the 120 volunteers at the veterans home, Parker’s personality makes him stand out among the rest, according to Joe Lavelle, who has stayed at the home for the past three years.

“Everyone comments and jokes with Brad. He can take a joke and he gives out a lot of jokes,” Lavelle said. “He gets up there and does this Elvis impersonation and it’s pretty good, but I tell him that he can’t sing and he’s destroying Elvis.”

When players win at Pokeno, they can buy candy or other personal items inside the veterans home. Lavelle, who served in the Army from 1953-55, hasn’t won in four weeks. He joked that he’s tried to conspire with Parker to get him the winning card, but to no avail.

“I tell Brad, ‘Let’s cheat.’ But you can’t,” Lavelle laughed. “Everybody likes Brad. He’s a good emcee and he’s a nice guy.”

Through the worst of times, even after he was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2011 and breaking his foot shortly after chemotherapy, Parker was still calling the Pokeno numbers at the veterans home to those who enjoyed his company.

“When he was going through his own battle, his veteran peers gave him the strength to fight,”said Angela Metcalf, volunteer coordinator at the home. “It’s his love and respect for the veterans. He’s able to relate to their issues that civilians may not fully understand.”

The stories he’s heard and the friendships he’s made during the past 10 years are the reasons Parker keeps coming back to the veterans home.

“They try to motivate me and I try to motivate them and try to make their lives a little more joyful,” he said. “They help me to keep pushing on through. I’m gonna keep doing this as long as I can.”

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Pesticides should always be last resort

Q. I am wildlife biologist and a gardener. You should retract your statement about poisoning ground squirrels as the poisoned bodies will appear in the food chain of hawks, owls, coyotes, foxes and snakes.

Veterans continue to find ways to serve

Nevada’s Legislators come to Carson City every two years for in-person bill drafting and voting. During their “offseason,” as it were, they continue to communicate with constituents and stay on top of political activity statewide and on a national basis.

Horticulture expert answers desert garden questions

Q. The new growth on my bottle tree I bought in 2018 is dying (crusty), starting a month or so ago. After talking to the local nursery, I increased the watering and soaked it for about an hour and it now looks worse. I’m watering six days a week and each time the tree is getting 22 gallons.

Extreme heat wreaks havoc on homes, cars, people, pets

When the weather forecast shows a heat reprieve of triple digits under 110, we know this heat wave is more like a heat “tsunami.” These extreme temperatures call for extreme measures of readiness in order to safeguard our homes, cars, pets and loved ones, especially those who are most vulnerable.

Independence Day marked before Nevada was state

July 4 this year was on a Sunday, the first time since 2010. It marked the 245th anniversary since the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia. And so here we are today.