By: Megan Way | Photos by Su Phelps
Las Vegas United Services Organization (USO) is interested in finding veterans’ organizations willing to distribute cards to veterans, “We are trying to find people, in the community, who are willing to take some of these cards to give to veterans and they should call me for more information.” If you or your organization is interested in distributing cards to veterans call Jerry Bootzin at (303) 589-6314.
The Las Vegas USO held an event called “Cards For Donations” at the Fantastic Swap Meet on February 15, 16 and 17 from 10am until 6pm. The USO were given 180 thousand brand new decks of cards from the Bellagio and Aria Casinos.
Jerry Bootzin a retired Army Colonel, Commander of Jewish War Veterans Post 64, Finance officer of American Legion Post 14, Adjutant of the district 2 of the American legion, the lead USO volunteer in charge of the event, says that this is a test run from USO to see if we can get donations for cards. “This booth that was graciously donated to us by the Fantastic Swap Meet people at no charge to us” he says if the event works and they’re able to get donations, “They’ll do it some more in other places.” Jerry was working with Bonnie Freeman, another USO volunteer, at the booth that afternoon.
The money raised will go toward supporting all the Las Vegas USO outreach programs and the two USO lounges at the McCarren airport. The USO helps transition our troops from active duty to civilian life, put on events for units at Nellis and Creech Air Force base as well as for local National Guard Units.
USO’s booth also included craft kits from Help Heal Veterans, a non-profit from California, another one of the organizations that they’re working. Founded in 1971, Help Heal Veterans has provided free therapeutic craft kits to hospitalized and homebound veterans for generations. To “help cope with whatever situation they have”. “We added these kits experiment to see if we can give things to the community and not only to the veteran community but to the general community as well by distributing these things basically for free.”
One of the donators who visited their booth was Monica Snelling is an active duty Army staff sergeant. She just transferred to Las Vegas from Hawaii.
Su Phelps interviewed one of the donators, Marco Piludu. He was in the Air Force Special Forces:
Marco Piludu: I’m a Vietnam Veteran
Su Phelps: A Vietnam Veteran? You look so young!
Marco Piludu: I’m 65 years old, I’m 66!
Su Phelps: Wow, you are really young you were in when you were still in your early teens
Marco Piludu: I was drafted yeah.
Su Phelps: Wow, my goodness, and what branch of service were you in?
Marco Piludu: Air Force
Su Phelps: First of all, thank you for your service and how do I say, Thank you for supporting USO
Marco Piludu: Thank you, I used to go over there when I went to visit one of my friends, my brother in law, he’s in the navy. Well he just retired from the navy and younger brother’s kids, I keep telling them go while you’re young, you get a free education! Being in the military was the best years of my life.
Best years of your life?
Marco Piludu: Yeah, because I got to travel around the world, meet different people in different cultures, cause I got to travel all over Europe. I went to Vietnam, I went to Thailand I just came back from the Philippines the other day
Su Phelps: How many years were you in the service
Marco Piludu: 4 years, I was in the special forces, so you know
Su Phelps: Special Forces that’s good, that means you’re very smart and very brave too Thank you sir
Su Phelps: Thank you