Nevadans can take pride in their troops — and offer much-appreciated support

Writing to New York Mayor George Opdyke in 1863, President Lincoln expressed as only he could America’s support for those who serve in times of war: "Honor to the Soldier, and Sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause. Honor also to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field, and serves, as he best can, the same cause … who braves, for the common good, the storms of heaven and the storms of battle."

Lincoln’s words carried particular meaning for me as I returned to the Capitol following my recent trip to the Middle East. At the invitation of the U.S. Department of Defense, I joined three other governors in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan to be briefed on the conduct of the war and to thank the Nevadans who are deployed there. It was an experience I will never forget. My commitment as commander in chief of the Nevada National Guard is surely redoubled — but so, too, is my commitment to face to challenges of our time here at home.

It is impossible to view the results of a decade of war without a sense of the "shock and awe" that launched the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. But equally striking is the juxtaposition of state-of-the-art fighting technology, well-kept military bases and the care taken for our fighting men and women.

Nevadans can take pride in the family and friends who are deployed from the Silver State — and the dozens of doctors, nurses and others who volunteer alongside them. At every stop, I met Nevadans who asked about home, pressed for information about the state budget, and — above all — expressed their gratitude for our support.

What can we do to support them? Some need simple things: razors, "Power Bar" snacks (not junk food or candy), movies, video games. My office will soon announce a program for collecting items like these to send to the troops.

But those of us in policymaking positions and in business can do much more.

Like most Nevadans, the men and women of our National Guard are concerned they won’t be able to find work when they return. State government has a number of programs for returning veterans; I have directed state agency heads to search for ways to improve these services. Our new Silver State Works program and other work force development efforts can help ensure that those who did the job their nation asked of them will not be overlooked as equally vital components of our state-side economy.

I also heard from the troops that they are concerned they won’t be able to resume their education when they come home. I will be working with the Nevada System of Higher Education to sustain programs that provide tuition assistance for returning veterans.

And, finally, I hope all Nevadans will join me in rededicating our own sense of service to causes that matter to us individually. As we approach the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, I will call on Nevadans to join in remembrance, prayer and volunteer service. Some form of battle faces every one of us every day — and we have in our armed forces in the Middle East and around the globe countless role models for success. I am blessed to have seen them firsthand.

Brian Sandoval is governor of Nevada.

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