- Benefits and Services
- Veteran Organizations
- Veterans in Care
- Suicide Prevention
- Speakers Bureau
Reno native Wendy Simons is the Deputy Director of Wellness for the Nevada Department of Veterans Services. She oversees the Nevada State Veterans Home in Boulder City and the construction of the new Northern Nevada State Veterans Home in Sparks Nevada. She also oversees outreach programs including Veterans in Care and Home Bound Veterans. Her lifelong career in the health care industry includes time as an owner/administrator of assisted living facilities, and spans several decades of service to seniors, state agencies, academia and volunteer organizations. She is the former Chief of the state regulatory agency of the Bureau of Health Care Quality and Compliance, under the auspices of the Department of Public and Behavioral Health.
Simons holds a Bachelor's degree in Health Education. She has served as adjunct faculty for the UNR School of Medicine's Geriatric Education Center, in addition to being a member of numerous boards and commissions.
Fred Wagar is the Deputy Director of Programs and Services for the Nevada Department of Veterans Services. He oversees the department's Veterans Service Officers, who assist veterans in filing claims with the Veterans Administration, free of charge. He also oversees programs involving outreach and advocacy for veterans. Wagar brings vast experience in connecting veterans to services and benefits with a strong background and expertise in helping disabled veterans. He most recently served as a military service coordinator for the Department of Veterans Affairs in Las Vegas, where he helped people through the medical evaluation board process.
Wagar served as a combat engineer in the North Dakota National Guard from 1975 until 1983. After a seven-year hiatus, he joined the Army in 1990 and served as an Arabic linguist/interrogator. He was involved in numerous deployments to the Middle East. In 1998, he was discharged from the Army and joined the Army Reserves. In addition to military service, Wagar has also played an active role in the veterans’ community. He was appointed supervisor of the Disabled American Veterans National Service Office in Reno, where he also supervised the Las Vegas office. At the same time, he co-founded the Northern Nevada Wheelchair Program, which provides mobility equipment to veterans and their dependents at no cost. Wagar is a life member of the Disabled American Veterans, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion.
Amy Garland oversees several key areas of the department. She joined NDVS in 2014 as Chief Financial Officer, responsible for oversight of budgeting and the financial functions of the department. Today, in addition to those duties, she also oversees support services, personnel management, information technology and grants management. For nearly two decades, Garland has worked her way up through the ranks of Nevada state government. She has a strong track record of successfully managing and building highly productive teams, improving business processes, directing budget planning initiatives, developing compliance measures and reducing error rates.
Garland is a U.S. Navy veteran who holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. She is also a graduate of the State of Nevada’s Certified Public Manager’s program.
Linda Gelinger serves as Administrator for the Nevada State Veterans Home in Boulder City, Nevada. Under her tenure, the teamwork of the Home is credited for maintaining the highest rating, 5 Stars for quality measures and overall quality by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). According to federal health regulators only 2% of the nation's hospitals receive a 5 Star rating. Additionally, the Home has received the HealthInsight Quality Award several years in a row, putting the home in the top 20% in the country. Gelinger has more than 25 years of successful experience as a licensed Administrator in Southern Nevada in the private sector and currently serves as a member of the Board of Examiners for Long Term Care Administrators.
She has had several family members serve in the military here and overseas. Gelinger and her staff at the Home bring passion and commitment to serve Nevada veterans everyday.
Jose “Gabe" Velazquez , was hired at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in December 2004 as a Grounds Equipment Operator II. He quickly proved his skillset as a Grounds Supervisor and was promoted seven years later in 2011.
During his employment, Gabe has seen the cemetery go through two expansions and will see another in 2020 as the new NNVMC Superintendent.
Every day Gabe is inspired by the contact he has with veterans. Working at the cemetery provides him the opportunity to honor Nevada’s heroes in a special way. The cemetery receives compliments daily, whether on its natural beauty or appreciation for the much TLC given at the facility in tribute to those who served.
Gabe is a family man and engages his family in cemetery special events. You can see them assisting with set-up and tear-down on Memorial Day or Wreaths Across America.
In his spare time, Gabe is a great athlete and has a passion for teaching youth sports. He has been coaching softball and basketball since his daughter Nadia was 4 years old (she is now 13). He spends much of his time fundraising for their travelling softball team and is also coach to daughter Tatiana, 10 and son JJ, 7.
Although he’s a tough guy on the field, Gabe greets veterans and their families with a warm smile and compassionate demeanor.
Thank you, Gabe, for your knowledge and loyalty to Nevada’s veterans.
Chris Naylor is the Superintendent over the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery (SNVMC) in Boulder City. He manages and oversees all daily operations at the cemetery to include administration, landscaping, and burial operations. His professional work history includes business management, financial management, construction, and landscaping. Under his supervision the cemetery team has completed two major expansion projects and one renovation project. Naylor and his team are very proud and honored to assist Veterans and their families during a very difficult time and to provide Nevada’s Heroes with a dignified final resting place.
Being the son of a Navy and Army veteran as well as growing up in Southern California, he spent a lot of his youth around the Coronado Naval Base, the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and Camp Pendleton. During Desert Storm, Naylor worked as a civilian contractor for the Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton. He has a great respect and admiration for the men and women of the armed forces and is privileged to be working in a position that helps to bring comfort to veterans and their families during a difficult time. Naylor is currently serving as a Board Member on the Nevada Funeral and Cemetery Services Board.
Pieter Droog is Director of Veterans Advocacy and Services Support Team also known as VAST. He directly oversees the Nevada Veterans Services Officers, ensuring they are all certified by the State of Nevada and accredited by the VA as recognized Service Officers. Veterans Service Officers assist veterans in filing claims to obtain benefits. Droog has broad experience in management, logistics, operations, business and employment training. He received his degree and commission from Loyola College and served in the U.S. Army for 20 years. While in the Army, he served in a wide range of positions; from transportation officer, to commander of both the Direct Support Ordnance and General Support Aircraft Maintenance Companies. He also served as Director of Logistics and Deputy at the Materials Management Center in Sinai, Egypt. Additionally, he attended Army Flight School, Maintenance Test Pilot School and the Aircraft Maintenance Officer Course. After leaving the military, he served as Branch Manager for two non-profits, ProNet and JOIN Reno, developing training programs to assist the unemployed in gaining employment.
Evan Rush is the Southern Nevada Outreach Director for the Nevada Department of Veterans Services. He oversees community outreach efforts in southern Nevada as well as participating in community groups and professional organizations. In addition, Rush manages and supports the Nevada Veteran Advocate (NVA) volunteers within his area of responsibility.
Rush brings vast experience in connecting veterans to needed services and maintains a strong background in helping veterans with disabilities. He most recently served as a Disabled Veteran Outreach Program (DVOP) specialist for the Department of Education, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) in Las Vegas. He also managed the Combat Stress Recovery Program (CSRP) for Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) in Seattle, WA and Honolulu, HI.
Rush served in the Navy from 1986 to 2006. He was a hangar/ flight deck aircraft director on the USS Nimitz (CVN-68). Seeking other opportunities, Rush changed military occupations and served as a Master-at-Arms (Military Police). He was involved in several deployments around the world. In 2006, he retired from naval service.