Saturday, August 22, 2009

Helping our donations go further

We donated $6,500 earlier this year to the MN Veterans Family Support (MVFS) group this year to help them do Project Backpack.

MVFS supplies Back-To-School Backpacks to the families of deployed, recently returned, wounded/disabled, MIA and KIA military families. Each backpack is individually packed to the child’s school supply list. It also lets the child know that they are recognized for the sacrifice they have made during deployment.

It is one thing to to fill a backpack... they still have to be delivered to the child requesting it anywhere in the state.

Enter BLUE PACKAGE DELIVERY, LLC based in the NE Metro. They are a consolidator and shipper of parcels and packages through the US Postal System. The founder, Blaine Byram, is a long time friend of mine. I introduced Blaine to MVFS and his company took on delivering all the backpacks throughout the state!!!

This message is to both thank Blue Package Express and to let you know that we aren't alone in helping support the deployed. All we have to do is ask!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Donation From the Pawlenty for Governor Campaign

Fellow MN Patriot Guard Members….

I have some great news to share with you that came out of the blue….

By now you are aware that Governor Tim Pawlenty has announced he is not seeking another term as Governor of Minnesota. His tremendous support of the military and constant promotion of awareness of the sacrifices the military makes has made him a special Governor to us.

We have seen him at many funerals across the state for our fallen heroes. The grief he displays is genuine.. just as genuine as ours.

If you look closely at the Patriot Guard Riders flags that we sign and present to deploying units you will see not only his signature but also those of the First Lady and his daughters.

We have seen him in lighter moments as well. The first Rally in Mankato, Pine City, the Patriot Ride this year, and at other events where he took the time to walk up and down the flag lines as long as he could thanking you for standing there.

I’ll never forget seeing him on his hands and knees with some of the kids at the first Heroes United in St Cloud and letting them make bunny ears behind him.

With that set up now comes the good news….

I received a phone message this week from the Governor letting us know how much he appreciates the effort and sacrifices you all make to let all these families know how much you love and care for them. He said that he had a donation for us to let us know how much he thought of our mission and what we do.

We are receiving a donation from Pawlenty for Governor for $20,000. As they are closing the Pawlenty for Governor effort they had money left over in his campaign funds and they wanted to donate them to a 501(c)3 in the state of Minnesota that they trusted to do good things with it.

With this opportunity given to us we are going to really focus on helping families of the deployed in need with these funds. Our goal is to donate “quick strike” funds to the Family Assistance Centers (FAC) to help families who need help quickly with gift cards for groceries, gasoline, or other basic family needs. The Family Assistance Centers will work the Family Readiness Groups (FRG) of deployed units and other avenues to let families know that they can receive some fast help.

One of the HOTH missions has been the families of the deployed and with this donation we can really help them out!

Thank you to the Pawlenty for Governor team!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Some changes to our store....

Starting this week you will see some changes in how our store operates when shipping your orders out.

Our supporters at Dennis Kirk have offered to ship our store orders out at no charge. As many of the Dennis Kirk employees are members of the MN Patriot Guard it is a great fit!!!

The MN Patriot Guard is still responsible for the web site that takes the orders, processing and handling of money, and the types of inventory we sell. Dennis Kirk will be taking care of storing the inventory, printing the shipping orders out, packing the orders, and sending them out.

What you as customers of the store will see are faster shipping times!!

I want to thank John Redfield for the hours of work he spent shipping the store orders out over the last few years. John stepped into a tough situation and has since kept the store going and growing. John gets his weekends and garage back now with Dennis Kirk shipping the orders but he is still responsible for managing the store.

John will still be in charge of ordering material, designing new merchandise, and trouble shooting issues for us. He was handed some tough challenges with merchandise that wasn’t selling and we were hesitant to add new items with so much money invested in the store inventory. With inventory at it lowest levels in a few years John is working on some new items to introduce back to the lineup. Keep an eye on the store!

Thank you to Dennis Kirk for continuing to be there for us… They look at what they are doing is simple because they do this every day. We look at it with relief because John spent at least one full day per week shipping orders out of his house.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

July State Captain Report

Fellow members of the MN Patriot Guard…

It has been a few months since I posted a State Captains report. I apologize for the gap. Time is indeed scarce and I want to make communications a priority. I will work to make sure that every month we get this out to you.

We recently completed our hardest period since we became a group here in MN. We lost six military members in Iraq and Afghanistan in the span of two weeks. Each loss is blow to all of us and to have so many so quick really hurts in your heart.

My pride in you can not be written down and adequately say it. Each one of those missions that stretched over several days saw a sea of red, white and blue. From meeting the aircraft bringing them home, the escorts, the visitations, and services, and the further travel to their final resting place for two, saw you turn out in force. The presence and love you bring to these catches my breath.

I was honored in a couple cases to be on the escorts driving between the lines of flags as we moved. Each time I silently thanked the makers of dark sun glasses because it really does mist you up. The bag pipers playing Amazing Grace, the precision of the honor squads, the rifle salutes, taps, and the final good byes of the families to their fallen hero is a memory that will always be etched in my mind no matter where I am and what I do.

You and I are no different. Doing what we do does change you and no matter how hard your heart is this show of love and support is seen and felt by many.

My pride extends to the leadership team here in this state. We saw members of leadership share burdens, volunteer to help, spend countless hours planning missions, and at the final moment step back and let the members actions speak for them. At no time did I ever feel a mission was compromised by the spread out geography as I knew the leadership team served with no boundaries just as you do. I am not naming names as there are many but each one has my appreciation and respect.

I will close this part by going back to Heroes United in 2008. One Gold Star parent sent this to me and I believe each one of our recent fallen families would say the same thing to you….

“Thank you for all you do for our Fallen's families. I imagine that when each of you arrives in heaven, you will be greeted with a Patriot Guard's Guard: our Fallen lining the corridor to heaven, cheering and welcoming you home.”

My friends you have earned that.

God Bless the families of;
SGT Wayne Hosford
SPC Daniel Drevnick
SPC James Wertish
SPC Carlos Wilcox IV
Capt. Thomas Gramith
CPL Ben Kopp

In June we presented the 2009 Patriot Ride sponsored by Dennis Kirk. They ran out of wrist bands after 2,500 were given out. The level of support we received from the community of motorcyclists was wonderful and we had over 500 active duty personnel ride with us as well that day. Even in these tough times we managed to exceed last years sale counts in raffle tickets. Both the MN Patriot Guard and the MMAF will be able to continue our causes with the money that was raised that day. After the ride over 100 of the Gold Star families from Minnesota gathered for a special dinner for just them. Our goal has always been that some day they own this event and I think we got one step closer to it this year. The family of SGT Nicholas Turcotte led the way in planning and knowing Betsy Turcotte next year is already in motion!

We have also been attending at every step of the way the Remember the Fallen Tributes organized by the Military Salute Project. Since May all over this state our teams have helped smooth the logistics of the core team visit these cemetery sites of our fallen since 9-11. I didn’t attend as many as I would have liked because of the mission loads but each day I rode with this mission was a day that made me better. It helped me keep my promise of “Never forgetting.” When the last weekend is complete we will write up a special mission report for this effort along with web site links to the pictures. There will be many a special “Thank You” to be given…

So many special days.. the interment of a Korean War KIA brought home.. the monument dedication of a Canadian Vietnam War KIA in Canada, the Meet and Greets, the HOTH events, I realized why we need to do this monthly. To compact so much into one posting doesn’t do any of them justice.

I will close by complimenting the dedication of all of you. Being an active member of this group isn’t easy. It isn’t something that takes up a few days per year or once in a while. This is 52 weeks a year answering the request of a family of the military. In some cases it is multiple missions in a single day.

And you show up. Holding a flag when needed. And going home when you are done. No fancy balls or recognition dinners. No press releases. Just good people doing good things.

Thank you.