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Veterans Day Parade returns, but pandemic takes toll on Las Vegas veterans

Las Vegas veteran reflects on the impact COVID-19 has on “American Heroes”
Posted at 11:09 PM, Nov 10, 2021

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — After nearly two years, the Veteran’s Day Parade returns to Las Vegas after being canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last year, Vietnam War veteran Jerry Adams and thousands of other vets were not able to celebrate Veteran’s Day the way they normally would. This parade is known to be one of the largest parades this side of the Mississippi, and Adams says not having it was a major loss.

“It was very tough for a lot of people, especially those that are single or shut-ins — to not be able to go out and feel that confinement was very tough,” Adams said.

Adams says the Veteran’s Parade is something many vets in the valley look forward to every year. It is a chance to see their community and share their experiences while they were at war. The pandemic brought that to a drastic stop.

This virus has taken a major toll on many veterans — not only on their mental health but also their physical health, Adams said.

MORE: Veterans share their successes, setbacks in Veteran's Voice

“I know my own VFW members lost quite a few members to COVID, and then suicide," he said. "They are saying we are strapped to about 20 veterans a day, which is still outrageously high."

He says now that the parade has returned, he can see life coming back to many vets who have been isolated and trapped for so long, but Stephanie Helms, Klines Veterans Fund executive director, says there is still a lot of work to do.

“Because of COVID, the need for assistance has increased by 40 to 50 percent,” Helms said.

Helms says in the valley we have about 200,000 veterans and active-duty members, which is about 10% of our adult population. Her organization gives at-risk and homeless veterans emergency housing assistance and support. She says over the past year-and-a-half, their phones have been ringing non-stop.

“We just recently had one from a veteran with a pregnant wife, two kids ages two and five, and the four-and-a-half of them were sleeping in the car because he didn’t get paid for two weeks and they didn’t have any place to stay,” Helms said.

She says we should not only care and worry about our vets on this day, but we should do our part to make sure these heroes are taken care of year-round as a form of gratitude for our freedom in this country.

Helms says her organization has set up a campaign this month called “Hope for Heroes” to raise $25,000 to house 25 additional families.

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