Wednesday, November 28, 2007

State of the State

Recently a few folks have asked what's been happening since the Rally and Patriot Ride in June. Well, it's been a busy time and we don't slow down for cold weather.

July was by far our busiest month ever with the return of the Minnesota National Guard soldiers from the 1/34th BCT. The "Red Bulls" completed the longest tour by any unit since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Over the dates of June 23 and July 16-30, we were honored to complete over 40 welcome home missions including approximately 70 escort groups for more than 2600 soldiers from the Red Bulls.

Groups of approximately six riders provided an escort for each welcome home unit's bus or buses, picking them up at the Minnesota/Wisconsin border and escorting them to their respective armories through out the state of Minnesota. At the armories themselves, more PGR members were on hand to greet them with flag lines, cheers and applause.

I must say - that period of time was incredible. You all were amazing in turning out to show our Red Bulls how much we love and appreciate them! I know one of the final escorts to Fergus Falls from the Wisconsin border was one of the coolest rides I've ever taken.

Other missions we completed are listed by their respective month...

In addition to the Red Bulls Welcome Homes, we also had 7 Honor Missions, 3 Send Off''s, 1 Vietnam Wall Escort, 1 Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Escort, 2 Veterans Home Visits, 1 Memorial Dedication.

5 Honor Missions, 3 War on Terror Wall Escorts, 1 Memorial Dedication, 1 Veterans Home Visit, 4 Welcome Homes, 3 Memorial Dedications, 1 Wounded Veterans Fish Tournament, 1 Benefit.

7 Honor Missions, 1 Vietnam Wall Escort, 2 Veterans Home Visits, 2 Welcome Homes, 5 Memorial Dedications, 8 Benefits, 1 Disabled Veterans Deer Hunt.

6 Honor Missions, 1 Send Off, 2 Welcome Homes, 2 Veterans Home Visits, 5 Memorial Dedications, 2 Benefits.

5 Honor Missions, Several Veterans' Day events, 2 Veterans Home Visits, 2 Benefits, 2 Welcome Homes and 1 Sendoff.

One of the goals of our HOTH program is to assist the families of the deployed in the areas that slip through the cracks of conventional assistance. Since the beginning of the year, our Help On The Homefront (HOTH) program provided over $9,000 in grants to various military individuals and/or families from Minnesota to either assist families with expenses associated with a loved one being killed in action, or to help members of our military who have been wounded in action.

Another part of our HOTH program is support of our veterans. Since the beginning of the year, we have spent over $1,500 to sponsor bingo at our regular visits with the veterans at the MN Veterans Homes, $3,400 to supply all of MN VA Homes with new flags, $300 to the Homeless Veterans Initiative, and $600 to offset food and lodging for the Veteran participants in the Disabled Veteran Deer Hunt. Several of our members also helped assist the veterans in all aspects of the hunt.

I'm probably missing a few things there, but I trust Marge, our Treasurer, will peruse this and tell me so. :-)

Our current membership is over 3600 people (WOW), and each one of you is important! In an all-volunteer organization, we all do what we can - and it's always enough.

Some of you have ridden and stood in the elements countless times, some of you only once but the numbers don't matter. To each family, that day is all that matters.

You always make a difference. For that, all I can say is "Thank You."

Monica Mead
MN State Captain
Patriot Guard Riders