The Official Voice of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress
July/August 2005

Desert Life: Nevada Incarcerated Chapters


Of Rocks and Zephyrs: A Guide's Notes

I was delighted to guide staff from The VVA Veteran through the Nevada State Prison and the Northern Nevada Correctional Center, preceded by a drive around Lake Tahoe. Always spectacular, in late spring the snowy peaks surrounding Tahoe accentuate the view and reflect in the water.

The tour and visits with the VVA Incarcerated Chapters in Carson City, however, were the highlight for myself and for the members and associates of Chapters 545 and 719. The members of Chapter 545 at the historic Nevada State Prison were thrilled to have VVA staff walk their yard. Visitors are a rare enough treat for the chapter, but the chance to wander around and show off their gardens, paintings, handicrafts, and koi ponds and to interact with the VVA folks will be talked about for a long time.

Likewise, the walking tour of the Northern Nevada Correctional Center the following day with Chapter 719 and staff also was memorable. Validation and recognition mean so much more for those behind bars and fences.

Vietnam Veterans of America and its associates constitute a viable and growing social organization within the Nevada Department of Corrections. In addition to Chapters 545 and 719, there are two active chapters in the Las Vegas area and another active chapter at the Lovelock Correctional Center, east of Reno. All these chapters work closely with local VVA chapters and the Nevada State Council. The incarcerated chapters are proud of their accomplishments and their ability to improve their own lives and the lives of the other prisoners in the general population. These chapters have taken to heart the VVA motto, “In Service to America.”

Chapters 719 and 545 will share a vendor’s table at the National Convention in Reno. They will provide information about their organizations and accomplishments. Additionally, hobbycraft items, shirts, and rock art will be offered for sale. Supporters from Stead Elementary School and other volunteers will man the table.

But all this good news is tempered by the passing on May 26 of Robert Farrar, the original staff sponsor of NSP Chapter 545. The chapter lost a good friend, confidant, and mentor. A former Army captain, a Korean War veteran, and a trailblazer, Bob guided the chapter with meager resources and often under careful custodial scrutiny and staff suspicions. Bob carefully nurtured the chapter, enabling it to flourish and to develop prison programs that addressed the needs of the prisoners.

The Chapter 545 yard beautification project is ongoing; the image of Ole Max is changed forever. Bob’s retirement left a void—almost an abyss—that I stepped into. But I could not have succeeded without his perseverance and dedication in the face of an often reluctant and suspicious administration and staff.


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