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.
But for most of them, being a member of the Nevada Legislature is not a full-time, money-making opportunity. They really care about the state and their districts, and work hard to fight for the causes they believe in, while they handle full-time employment. In addition, many have served or are currently serving in the United States military.
Whether it’s two years or more than 20 years, men and women who serve the United States in the military often continue their service by entering the political arena. Nevada legislators are no exception, as several of our elected officials can boast of proud military service.
Sen. Joe Hardy served in the ROTC while a freshman at the University of Nevada, Reno. In Normandy for eight months, Hardy said he was impressed with the iron will of the American troops as they took to the cliffs and the beaches in the cause of freedom and brotherhood of Allies against the forces of evil. Forty-eight years later he returned to Reims, France, and went to what had been the secret Allied forces headquarters where the German command surrendered.
“I still feel the reality of divine intervention in the outcome of that worldwide war,” said Hardy, a medical doctor. “I was blessed to be awarded a health profession scholarship with the United States Air Force for the last three years of medical school as a Reserve 2nd lieutenant. My ensuing active duty was at Ellsworth AFB in South Dakota for three years.”
He left the service as a major.
Rep. Clara “Claire” Thomas served in the United States Air Force as an air traffic controller stationed at Nellis Air Force Base. Promoted to Sgt. E-5, she invested 19½ years in the military. Thomas was and is still is involved in many civic activities, including 2021 session committees: Government Affairs, Health and Human Services and Legislative Operations and Elections. She has been affiliated with the Asian American Pacific Islander Democratic Caucus, the Clark County Central Committee and the National Federation of Democratic Woman, among many others.
Sen. Pat Spearman served in the United States Army in the military police corps, leaving in 2007. From 1992 to 1996 she was a member of the 17th Congressional District Selection Committee for Military Academies. She is affiliated with the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries International and the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, among other groups.
An analysis conducted by the National Conference of State Legislators after the 2020 elections identified at least 911 military veterans currently serving in the legislatures of the 50 states and five U.S. territories. These veterans make up 12.24 percent of the 7,383 state legislators nationwide.
Veteran legislators represent every branch of the military and the National Guard as they bring their training, commitment and leadership skills to state government. At least 162 state legislators currently serve in the National Guard, which consists of the Army National Guard and the Air Force’s Air National Guard. While federally funded, the National Guard is organized and controlled by the states. Another 122 state legislators are members of Reserve units of various branches of the U.S. military.
The dedication of these legislators who pursued elective office in the states, concurrent with or following military service, is an example to many as the true meaning of public service.
Several employees at radio station KKVV-AM in Las Vegas where my show is produced have contracted COVID-19. I have been vaccinated and not affected, but my Sunday show will be on hiatus for the time being. I wish a speedy recovery for those who are under medical care or quarantined.
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.”