As I have noted in the past, while there are several major veterans service organizations whose names are well-known by most Americans, there are also numerous legitimate smaller groups that do good work but are less known to the general public. One such organization is Nation of Patriots, which coincidentally is very active in Boulder City.
Melanie Stout, one of the leaders the 10-year old organization, said, “The Nation of Patriots is an organization run by volunteers, and what we do is raise money for our local injured military members and veterans and their families.”
The nonprofit is made up of veterans and a few non-veterans who want to help. The majority of the members are motorcycle riders, but certainly not all of them. “We accept any volunteers, anybody who wants to help,” Stout said. “Anyone who cares for the cause, they are welcome to join us.”
Stout is an Air Force veteran and traveled all over the nation for 10 years as a maintenance scheduler for military aircraft. Her husband is a retired Air Force crew chief who was stationed at Nellis Air Force Base and is also a Nation of Patriots member.
The day before Memorial Day, Stout’s group and many other motorcycle rider groups that support veterans could be seen coming over Hoover Dam from the Arizona side with American flags attached to their bikes waving in the wind. As they have done for the past several years, they rode straight to the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery, where veterans of the Army Special Forces hold a memorial service.
“Every group I can think of, I think, was there. Over 2,000 riders,” she said.
In September, the group with hold its second annual charity poker run to benefit injured military families.
“We have many veterans and active-duty people here who have sustained injuries, and sometimes life isn’t so easy,” Stout said. “Local recipients have to meet certain requirements and are chosen by a combination of hospital personnel at the Veterans Administration and members of the Vietnam Veterans of America. And we award them funds that helps make life a little bit easier for them. Perhaps they need a wheelchair ramp at their home, for example.”
Although many of the participants in the poker run are riders, “we do have some who show up in cars and want to do the run,” Stout said. “And that’s OK, too.”
The Sept. 21 run starts at the VFW Post 10047 at 4347 Las Vegas Blvd. N. Registration runs from 8-10 a.m.
The main charity project the organization sponsors each year is called the Patriot Tour. A large American flag is carried by riders across the country starting at Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, where Patriot of Nations was formed. The flag is carried to each of the 48 contiguous states and transferred to riders in each state, who in turn take it to the next transfer point in a short ceremony.
Along the route, Stout said riders collect donations and sell patriotic items, with 100 percent of the money going to help injured veterans who are struggling to support their families. Donations in the form of grant checks are sent directly to eligible veterans or to their bill collectors.
On Tuesday, July 2, the riders will meet at the Silverton on Blue Diamond Road and ride to Buffalo Bill’s hotel in Primm to take possession of the flag from riders who brought it from Lancaster, California. The contingent will then ride to the Harley-Davidson store on Las Vegas Boulevard near the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign and hold a flag exchange ceremony and lunch.
The public is invited to take part in both events. Stout’s group will be responsible for displaying the flag at various locations until July 5, when it will depart to Kingman, Arizona. The group will meet at that city’s Elks Lodge to pass the flag on to the Patriots waiting in the Grand Canyon State.
Stout said the group will participate in Boulder City’s Damboree parade. “So anybody who wishes to ride their motorcycle, or walk with us, is welcome to join in.”
Stout’s group also will have a booth later that afternoon at Veterans’ Memorial Park. “We also welcome any volunteers there,” she said. “Or if you like, just swing by and say ‘Hello.’”
She added that in August they will hold their first fundraising bowling tournament in Boulder City.
“(The people of) Boulder City have supported us wonderfully.”
For more information, contact Stout at 702-533-8878 or at NationOfPatriotsLV@gmail.com.
Chuck N. Baker is a Purple Heart veteran of the Vietnam War and the host of “That’s America to Me” every Sunday at 7 a.m. on 97.1 FM.