Sunday, November 30, 2008

I'd like to post something from Doug Bley, the Ride Captain from Metro NW...George

I want to express my heartfelt gratitude for the response to the Metro Area Meet and Greet 28Nov08. We don't have a hard count but we are estimating at least 175 Toys were collected so well over 200 people were there! WOW!!! The Anoka County food shelf received a great boost as well, 441 lbs. of food. The attendees also generously donated $130 towards the Patriot Guard Riders Legal defense fund.

Your generosity is humbling as many kids are going to go without this Holiday season. As we do... anonymously.. we made a difference to the 175 kids who will now have a gift under their tree.

For those who were there it was nice putting a few more faces with email names (Pete the Pyeater comes to mind) and in general relax and laugh with you all. We will do this again.

Thanks to Two Stooges for hosting us and the donations of food and drink, Zylstra HD and Dennis Kirk for raffle donations, the St Paul Chapter of the Blue Star Mom's for their $500 donation to us, John Redfield and the North Metro Blue Star Mom's for having the stores open, and as always the real thanks goes to our soldiers currently serving and the vets who kept us safe in years past.

Doug Bley RC Metro NW

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Today is Thanksgiving Day

In looking over the past year there are a lot of things to be thankful for. I’m thankful that we have young men and women who still care enough about our country that they are willing to give up time out of their lives to protect and defend our freedoms. In walking through the grocery store last night, I noticed all the babies and young children, and thought about those serving in the sandbox and the Balkans who don’t have the luxury to be able to spend the holidays with their families, and watch their children preparing for their first Christmas, their first step, that first day of school, the first communion, that first time behind the wheel of the car…all the things the rest of us take for granted. Or the spouse left behind that has to raise the kids alone, or figure out how to replace the water heater that just broke, or where to take the car to get it worked on. These are the true heroes, the young men and women who serve in the armed services of this country, and their families, and I pray we never forget their sacrifices.

I’m thankful that patriotism has come back into favor. That never again will our young men and women return home from fighting for their country, and be ashamed of their duty, or be treated like outcasts by an ungrateful nation. I’m thankful that we are able to attend the send off’s and that we are there to welcome them home. That we do make a difference in that young man or woman's life.

And I’m thankful that I have a warm place to sleep tonight and will be sitting down to a turkey dinner later today, unlike some of our veterans who have no home, and the prospects of a turkey dinner are bleak.

I’m thankful that we’ve been able to make a difference in our older veteran’s lives, by visiting them in the VA Homes and establishing friendships as we played bingo together. For some it’s the only outside contact they have.

I’m thankful that Lynn still has a job, because some of us have either lost our jobs or may not have one much longer.

I’m thankful that because through the generosity of fellow Minnesotans, that the MN Patriot Guard currently has the funds available to assist those serving our country, those who may become wounded, or God forbid, make that ultimate sacrifice and lay down their life for our country.

I’m thankful that as an organization we are establishing and have established relationships with the Family Readiness Groups throughout the state, so our National Guard families know someone here in Minnesota cares about them and their sacrifices here at home.

And if it’s not to early to ask for my Christmas wish, I wish that all our young men and women return safely back home to their loved ones. That the only missions in 2009 will be send off’s and welcome homes, or our visits to the VA Homes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Several Things

There are several things going on that we need to share with you. First, by July of 2009 Minnesota will have approximately 5,000+ young men and women deployed to the sandbox. (I remember 2006-2007 when Red Bull had 3,200+ deployed and how we all breathed a sigh of relief when they returned home.) Over the next 6 months we will be holding a lot of send off's as the units leave Minnesota. This is an excellent way to recharge your batteries and really feel good, so please plan on attending those that fit into your schedule. And in 2010, we will be there to welcome our heroes back home.

Our leadership has been holding talks with the Minnesota National Guard on ways to improve upon our relationship with the young men and women who serve our State and Nation in the Minnesota National Guard. It was felt that we have done an excellent job of welcoming home the troops, and turning out for the MIRTS. We have gotten the message across to them that they were in our thoughts when we sent the signed Patriot Guard flags to units while they where deployed.

However, we haven't focused on the family members left behind when those troops deployed. So we are going to be starting something new. HOTH and your Ride Captains are going to work with the Family Readiness Groups (FRG's), and coordinate with them by inviting the families to join us at one or two Meet and Greets during the next year. It's a way for us to let the families know that someone cares about them, and respects the sacrifices they go through while their loved ones are serving our country. And it's a way for us to meet some really neat families living here in Minnesota. Who knows how many future motorcyclists we will be responsible for, just by spending a few hours with the families of those who are protecting our freedoms.

It's also a way for us to build a relationship with the FRG's so that they will be more willing to approach us should a family need assistance. Our HOTH program is there to assist the families of those serving in the military and National Guard that have exhausted all other resources for assistance and have fallen through the cracks. HOTH also assists our young warriors and their families should they be wounded.

And HOTH coordinates visits with our veterans who reside in the VA Nursing homes throughout the state. If you haven't joined us in visiting the veterans at the various VA Nursing homes, I encourage you to do so. Some of them for whatever reasons don't have visitors, so you may be the only outside contact they have. What an opportunity to raise the spirits of someone who gave so much to our country, and protected the freedoms we all enjoy every day.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I can't help to give thanks to each and every one of you for making the Minnesota Patriot Guard what it is. Our men and women who serve know you are there to honor and support them. They know you will be there to protect their family should they make that ultimate sacrifice. Our Gold Star families know we will never forget their son or daughter and the sacrifice they made, and that we are there for them. Our veterans know you'll be there to visit them in the VA Homes. And our politicians know you do make a difference to the veterans and those kids who currently serve and protect our freedoms. You truly are some of the greatest people I've ever had the pleasure to meet.