Fellow Minnesota Patriot Guard Members,
Just had a few things to talk to you about, but before I get into that - THANK YOU for all you are doing all around the state! Missions, Vet Home visits and other activities go on all around the state - supported by our members! Many of you are getting out on your bikes, but regardless of your mode of transport - be safe out there!
Most of you already know and are hearing someone you know saying that their loved one is coming home from deployment soon - exciting times!! To keep you up to date - we are working with the MN National Guard, but information is not available yet.. Once we know and once we have permission from the MN National Guard, we will be able to post the missions - not until then. So some may be a bit shorter notice, and times may fluctuate closer to arrival time, so we'll have to be flexible, and always check the calendar before you head out to a mission for any last minute changes. Below are a few questions and answers that we get a lot of questions about regarding Welcome Homes:
* I have some important information about a unit return. What should I do?
The information we work with is the official information given to us by the National Guard. If you have something you think should be shared please email it to Missions@MNPatriotGuard.org. Please don't post anything to Facebook or other websites with this information as the military does want to guard against publicizing troop movements.
* Why are the escorts so small?
Several years ago we were asked by the MN NG and Law Enforcement to limit our bike escorts to 6-8 bikes. It is a safety concern and it adds to the length of the procession that they want to keep down as much as possible. So that's 6-8 bikes total - behind the buses are also considered part of the escort procession - we need to honor the request made of us. Passengers are also not allowed. Specific riding gear is at the discretion of the RCIC (Ride Captain in Charge) for that mission.
* I know someone on the bus. Why can't I be part of the escort?
One thing that is difficult for all of us in leadership is to explain to someone why it's not a good idea to be part of the escort when "my son/daughter/best friend is on that bus." We are excited right along with you that they are home, but we do ask that you really think about it and refrain from asking to be in the escorts. Many of us, including me, have ridden an escort of the remains of one of our hero's with tears flowing at 30 mph. 60 mph with tears in front of a bus that can't stop in time, is not a good plan for safety of the fellow escort riders. Let us cover for you the day of your loved ones return - you join the other families and be the first to greet your loved one back home, instead of having to park the bike, and get thru the mob to find your loved one, because all the other families and soldiers are already with their loved one - we have your back that day! Let us handle the escort.
One thing we often hear as members is someone asking us how to get the PGR at a funeral or saying they didn't know how to contact us. If you are asked that question, please refer them to our state website at http://www.mnpatriotguard.org/ and click on the "Request" link, fill that out and submit. That form gives us all the information we need to setup the mission, get it out to members in as timely manner as we can. The Missions team (6 sets of eyes) monitor the email address that the request goes to, so we can get it out to the Ride Captain to set up as soon as possible. Requests have to come from immediate family (parent, sibling, spouse, child), through official military channels, or by funeral director. We have to know it is the express wishes of the family that we are there, and respect their wishes on how they want to mourn the loss or celebrate the life of their loved one.
I was at a conference last week, and a gentleman there (shout out to MSG (Ret) from Hennepin County - thank you for your service!) said to me that he had joined the MN Patriot Guard several years ago, but hadn't been able to work in a mission. I think we've all heard that a time or two. That's OK!!! We'd sure love to have you join us, but we all have other responsibilities as well that have to come first. I do want to say if it's because you aren't sure of what to do if you go to a mission - don't worry about that!! You will find us a friendly group, who all remember our first mission and not knowing what to do. We generally ask for any new members to identify themselves at missions - not to put you on the spot - but for 2 reasons - to thank you for joining us, and so that someone who has more experience can pair up with you and help you get comfortable with what we do and how we do things. So if that is the reason you haven't been able to join us yet, put that to rest - we'd love to have you join us!
Planning for the Patriot Ride is in full swing - you all received a email from Doug last week on that - 16 June - it's a day you will never forget, remembrances, the CVVA Memorial Moving Wall, tributes to our military, veterans, their families and most of all the Gold Star families, and it's lot of FUN! You can get more information at http://www.thepatriotride.org/
I also want to say a big thank you to our leadership! Missions getting set up and the word getting out wouldn't happen without them, keeping us focused on our mission scope, and making sure those that have served or are serving are given the honor that their service deserves.
I look forward to seeing you all on the flagline & at the Patriot Ride!
Thank you for your support in giving our Military the honor, dignity, and respect they deserve
Minnesota Patriot Guard State Captain