Joining the “Big Five” might make us think of sports or sporting goods this time of year but for a local nonprofit group, it means putting Elko on the map for a noble cause. Just think, if not for the sacrifices of our military servicemen and women, we would not have the freedom to enjoy sports and other liberties we sometimes take for granted.

In writing about the POW*MIA Elko Awareness Association, Tom Engkilterra, Region 6 coordinator for the National League of POW/MIA Families, recently shared the following in their newsletter The W.I.R.E:

“Elko, Nevada joins the Big Five. Elko, Nevada has in five years managed to join the five most active states on the POW/MIA Issue. Elko now joins Idaho, Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey and Georgia as the most active and successful in Public Awareness. The POW/MIA Elko Awareness Association has galvanized the support of their entire community behind the Issue in support of the National League of POW/MIA Families. At a February event held by the Association, they raised a record amount in fundraising to benefit the League. Elko has done what normally takes an entire state to accomplish. Thank You Elko and welcome to our family.”

In the span of just five years, the POW*MIA Elko Awareness Association has gone from its humble beginnings as a handful of veterans and family members to a respectable organization with over 130 members, including veterans, active military personnel, and non-veteran patriots.

During the association’s fifth annual chili feed and auction fundraiser held in February, Elko was honored with the visit of Executive Director Ann Mills Griffiths and other key people from the National League of POW/MIA Families. The overwhelming support shown by our community made a huge impression on the League and those families seeking answers about their loved ones still missing and/or unaccounted for. The Elko group has since learned that there are families all over the nation wondering, ‘Where is Elko? What is it about their community that gives us peace of mind?’  The answer is support. Those families wish to extend their gratitude to the entire Elko area community. Additionally, the POW*MIA Elko Awareness Association wants to sincerely thank all the citizens and businesses of this community for their outstanding support and donations of time, money and resources.

This July, the POW*MIA Elko Awareness Association has a unique opportunity to represent the Elko area in Washington, D.C. They have been invited by the National League of POW/MIA Families to serve as Sergeant-at-Arms for their annual meeting. The association will have an opportunity to meet with former POWs and families of POWs and MIAs, along with many other dignitaries from our nation's capital and from all over the world. Most importantly, they will be able pass on all the support from our community and showcase it on a national stage.

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The local association has been asked to send at least six (and hopefully more) members to represent Elko. While several members have eagerly volunteered to attend and pay for their expenses while there, the association doesn’t have the necessary funds to get them there. The cost to fly each member will be about $500. Although the League of Families is sponsoring some of the hotel accommodations, individual members will have to pay out-of-pocket for additional housing and all meal expenses.

The POW*MIA Elko Awareness Association is asking for donations to help cover the airfare costs. Donations can be made at the Elko Federal Credit Union in the association’s name under “DC Trip” (Account No. 30828616-5). More information can be found on the web at: www.elkonvpowmia.org. The Elko area community can be proud that we have made a difference — thank you.

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Todd Scott is a member of the POW*MIA Elko Awareness Association.

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