Elected officials or their representatives can be found attending many of the meetings and gatherings of veterans throughout Nevada. But when they attend a gathering not of actual veterans, but of individuals who were once related to veterans, you might wonder what it’s all about. And what it is all about is an organization made up of widows of those who served: the Society of Military Widows. It’s an important group.
At a recent holiday gathering of Chapter 34 of the SMW, several representatives of elected officials stumbled over themselves to hand out literature and business cards. They couldn’t get to every attendee fast enough to let everyone know their bosses supported veterans as well as widows of deceased veterans. Daniel Carranza was there on behalf of Rep. Dina Titus, Brendan Vargus was there representing Sen. Jacky Rosen and Larry Hamm was there to represent Rep. Steven Horsford. I have no doubt other representatives of elected officials would have been there had schedules permitted as SMW is a solid organization worthy of support.
The SMW is a national group. It was founded in 1968 by Theresa (Tess) Alexander to serve the interests of women whose husbands died while on active military duty, of a service-connected illness, or during a disability or regular retirement from the U.S. armed forces. Janet Snyder, founding president of Nevada Chapter 34, said that all eligible women should consider becoming members, even if they can’t always attend monthly meetings.
The group gains political leverage based on total membership. On a national level, legislative members “walk the halls of Congress” to deliver their messages, one of which is to protect hard-earned benefits that these widows have obtained.
Locally, the chapter donates time and gifts to several organizations and needy individuals. Recently, Midge Sparlin gave away her handmade blankets to homeless veterans and to Falynn’s Wings, a group that supports children with numskull conditions. Last month, SMW members helped place wreaths at the veterans’ cemetery located here in our city.
The organization asks the question, “After the casualty officer and the caseworker have gone home and the paperwork is completed, how does one get through the lonely hours?” As a military survivor, one often faces problems a civilian counterpart does not. The SMW offers a support network, provides help to get through a difficult time and sometimes simply offers a shoulder cry on.
For more information, go to www.militarywidowsnevada.org.
Chuck N. Baker is an award-winning journalist and a Vietnam War Purple Heart veteran. He can be heard at 8:30 a.m. each Sunday on KKVV-AM hosting “That’s America to Me” and occasionally on KUNV-FM hosting “America’s Veterans, Today and Tomorrow.”