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As is the case with most Nevadans, the bulk of the state’s veterans live in the two big metro areas, Reno and Las Vegas.
There they are close to the VA hospitals in North Las Vegas and Reno and can connect with scores of private veterans support organizations.
Still, thousands of vets choose to live in rural Nevada, where people and services can be few and far between. That appeals to some veterans who want to enjoy the tranquility and elbow room, but also adds to the challenges of providing them assistance.
Those charged with supporting rural veterans, many veterans themselves, employ creative ways to engage people over long distances.
Elko-based Great Basin College, which serves an area of nearly 90,000 square miles over two time zones, seeks to build camaraderie among the 97 veterans in its 3,200-student body.
“The student veteran is definitely a different type of student than the traditional student. They’re older. They have families. They have bills,” said Jacob Park, veterans resource coordinator for Great Basin College. “Guys and gals just get out of the military after four years, seven years 10 years and they’re used to doing things how the military does it, not necessarily how the civilian life works.”
To reach out to veterans, the college hosts an annual mountain climbing excursion, oversees private-sector internships for veterans, and brings in authors and poets who are veterans to promote writing as an outlet for emotions.
Jacob Park, veterans resource coordinator, Great Basin College; Rick Egan, Nevada Office of Suicide Prevention; Greg Cardarelli, commander, Disabled American Veterans Chapter 15 in Pahrump