Sparks resident and retired Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Nevada District 3 Commander Robert Snider recently received the Veteran of the Month award recognizing Nevada veterans who contribute their energy and time to support their communities, veterans and/or the military.
Created by Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval to “shine a bright light on the work veterans continue to do for our nation”, the Veteran of the Month award honors Nevadans who’ve made a significant contribution and “achieved excellence by going above and beyond the call of duty,” as he stated at the time the award program was created.
As an active member of the VFW Silver State Post 3396 in Sparks, Fleet Reserve Association, and the VA hospital in Northern Nevada, Snider recently retired as the VFW District Post Commander covering the region from Verdi to Fernley.
He has visited most middle schools and high schools- especially those in Sparks- to be involved with their JROTC programs and Voice of Democracy contests.
Snider began his service with the US Navy in 1964 when he was deployed to fight in the Vietnam War.
“Being from the hills of West Virginia, we knew something was going to happen, so I volunteered,” he says. Snider went on to complete five tours of duty and earned three battle stars and then retired to San Diego County. He had two sons who grew up and moved to Northern Nevada. When his granddaughter was born, Snider moved to Reno and then to Sparks in 2006 to be closer to his family.
He then joined the local VFW Post, FRA, and volunteered for the VA hospital. “I have been a VFW member for 40 years; I started working with Post Commander David Sousa and we won three community service awards,” says Snider. “It was at that time when I started going to the schools from North Valley to Incline Village doing the JROTC graduations,” he adds.
“For example, at the Reed High School JROTC, we had 17 seniors graduating with a 4.0 GPA and 23 freshmen with a 3.5 GPA or more; it’s an outstanding program,” says Snider.
He likes being involved with the JROTC because students are taught self-discipline and motivation to do well.
“They look you right in the eye when they’re talking to you,” he adds.
Along with being active with the Northern Nevada JROTC programs, Snider hosts regular bingo nights at the VA hospital and volunteers for holidays and other initiatives.
“We do bingo for the patients and make root beer floats,” Snider says. With the FRA, Snider once spent a Christmas delivering cookies, drinks, and decorations to 60 patients who were on bed rest and sat and chatted with them.
“You can learn a lot by listening to a veteran,” he says. However, one of the biggest challenges that the VA Hospital faces is getting military women to come in and register. A lot of times they will come back from a tour and not get the help they need or that is available to them.
“If we can save somebody’s life by having them come in and get checked out, then that’s our goal,” he says, also mentioning that the nation loses a lot of veterans to suicide.
About receiving the award on May 24, presented by Nevada Department of Veteran Services Director Kat Miller, Snider says that receiving the Veteran of the Month award felt great.
“You could knock me over with a feather; I didn’t see it coming,” he says.
“We’re very proud of him because he just keeps going,” says auxiliary member Dolores Lantrip who has been in the auxiliary for over 50 years.