Tuesday, November 22, 2016

From National PGR President

My brothers and sisters

I hope you are all well. I’m Rob “Bees” Butler and I’m the President of the Patriot Guard. I assumed this position on 1 September after having been elected by your State Captains as Mike “Stay Low” Childree completed his term as President. Mike did an awesome job and served in national leadership for over 6 years. That’s extraordinary and we owe him a huge thank you. He has been promoted to the very highest level, the Flagline.

I’ve had many calls and notes of support and I am truly grateful. I promise you that I will do my best to support you as we continue our important mission. It is also my intention to communicate with you often and let you know what is going on and what your Board of Directors is about. People who know me will tell you that I’m pretty straight forward and I will be the same with you, I’m going to tell you what I think. If you’ve read my previous updates you will notice that some of the themes repeat themselves. I do this because they are vitally import and need to be said again and again. 
Just a few updates and I apologize for the length but there is a lot going on and I want you to be informed.

I hope you’ve taken the time to look at the site and are familiar with your board but if not;
Your Board of Directors consists of 7 members:

President- Rob “Bees” Butler, Georgia
Vice President of Captains- Randy “Steam” Stevens, South Carolina

Vice President of Members- Mike Lambert, Texas.
Mike was recently elected to the board by the State Captains and although already hard at work, will be “official “on 1 November. Mike is retired Navy and has been with the PGR since 2007. His bio will be posted shortly.

Vice President of Operations- Robert “Gator” Collins, Tennessee

Vice President of Hoth (Help on the Homefront)- John “Red Sauce” Fenech, New York

Secretary-Shane “Desert Doc” Leiser, Idaho

Treasurer-Darlene “Sweet Cheeks” Villa, Missouri

These are outstanding individuals that have thousands of missions and many years of service to the PGR under their belts. We work very closely with each other and your State and Regional Captains to support you and our mission. This is the last time you will hear me speak of us as individuals. Steam and I were in a meeting not too long ago and responding to question Steam said: “I would rather you didn’t even know that there is a board, because it’s not about us, It’s about the heroes and families we serve”. He could not have said it better. 

Not about us.
It’s not about us. We hear that and say it back and forth but what does that really mean? It’s simple really, it means that we give of our time and our emotions to serve those that stood in harms way for our freedom and our way of life. It means being a part of something bigger than ourselves. It means participating for its own sake, without thought of acknowledgement or reward. It means doing something because it’s right and good. It means being the mist, its being humble and putting the families we serve ahead of yourself. To Randy’s point, we want to do what we do and fade away, we don’t want to be flashy or draw attention to ourselves in any way. To do so makes it about it us and not the family we serve. 

I had a rider tell me once when he discovered that the mission was flagline only: “No escort? Well that’s no fun.” Uh huh, see ya pal. What we do is not fun, it’s serious business. if you want attention, go somewhere else. Leave your ego in your saddlebag.

Oh my, it’s been a terrible few months. It seems every time I turn on the news or look at social media I see “Rider down, prayers needed!” All riders feel a kinship and it always hits me when I hear of a rider going down but its especially heartbreaking when it’s one of our own PGR family. One of the things I love most about the PGR is that no matter how diverse we are, we put all that aside for a common cause, a cause that we are all passionate about. That gives us a special bond, If you’ve been doing this a while you know exactly what I mean. To lose a brother or sister on a mission just rips me up, even if I didn’t know the person. I read the circumstances and it occurs to me that I’ve probably been in the same situation. It can happen in the blink of an eye. 

What we do is dangerous. It just is and there is no way around it. In a lot of states the law requires that traffic yield to a funeral procession but I can’t tell you how many times we have almost been hit by some jerk that thinks he needs to get wherever in a hurry, especially in traffic. Please take care of yourself and each other. Please don’t assume safety because you’re in a group or procession and keep your head on a swivel, especially if there is any gap at all in the procession. Assume that you’re going to be cut into, expect it. Don’t assume that a LEO escort will protect you. Don’t get me wrong, we have great relationships with all law enforcement and they do everything they can to protect us but they can’t be everywhere, all the time.Do not, under any circumstances take it on yourself to block traffic, just don’t do it, you’re not helping and no, you shouldn’t do it in a cage either. 

The overwhelming majority of states will just not allow it for obvious reasons. There are a few states that have special laws and training but for 90% of us, nope. Don’t get angry if you and other bikes are sent ahead to the church or cemetery. The RC is wouldn’t do that if there were not a possible safety issue so smile and just go on. We are volunteers and we ride at our own risk, please remember that.

There should be a safety briefing on EVERY mission. There should be no exceptions to this anytime an escort is involved. If there isn’t, say something.

Our climate.

No, I’m not talking about the weather. I’m talking about what’s going on in our country right now. I’m not going to visit any topic because it you are reading this you know all too well what is going on. We are all concerned and disturbed about recent events and I think we should be. I think as Americans we need to pay very close attention.That being said, we need to keep our eye on the ball. That is to say that in the midst of all this our mission hasn’t changed.

We stand for those that stood for us and we ride with respect. That’s not only what we do but that’s become a part of who we are. The PGR has earned the respect of many because we are above the fray and are not political. We have our own opinions of course and if you want to ride or support a person or cause then please do so, but not as a PGR Member. Take your PGR flag off of your bike and leave your PGR vest in the closet. Our mission comes first. Remember that if your wear PGR gear, you represent the PGR. 

Store and Site
In the last several months we have made a lot of improvements to the store and to the National site. Many of the changes are behind the scenes but are designed to make the platform for stable and secure. You would be surprised at how many attempts there are each day to corrupt and gain wrongful entry into our system. Our system must be secure by its nature so if you screw up your password or login information, yea, it’s going to be a problem for you.

The store site does not require a separate login any longer so once you’re on the main site all you have to do it click on the store tab and you should go to the store. If you haven’t been on the main site in a while, PLEASE follow the instructions in the big block right in front of you. You will have to update your password and country on your profile. It must say US, not U. S. or United States.

The best method for accessing the site is a computer with an up to date browser. Most major browsers should work fine. Many of us use our mobile devices as well. I use an iPhone like a computer and I use the full site. I go to the bottom of the mobile site and click on full site. I have to enlarge most things but I have full functionality. I can order from the store and even post missions with no problems whatsoever.

If you have a problem, ask for help from accounts@partiotguard.org. Please be patient and give us a chance to fix it. I understand it’s frustrating, believe me I do, but threatening to quit the PGR or buy items elsewhere or using foul language is not, not going to help you. I feel silly for having to say that.

I saved something very important for last.

Patriot Guard Outreach
We lose a service member 22 times every day. I still can’t get my head around that number but its real and it’s just not right. It’s not right that our men and women should put their lives on the line and suffer when they come back to the United States or leave the military because they don’t know what to do or who to call or dont get the support they need. I cannot imagine the anguish that some of these brave people go through. . No American service person should feel like no one can help or understand or feel alone.

It has to stop

What if I told you that you could save a life by giving someone a phone number. What if I told you that you could ease suffering by asking someone how they are doing and just listening to their answer.

Think about this for a minute. All of us know or love a service member or veteran. All of us have been touched in some way by one of these great Americans. There are several hundred thousand of us who interact with service men and women every day. If we can make a difference in one person’s life, isn’t it worth our effort, your effort? Think what a group like us can do together.

We can do more than we are doing and we are going to.

In the next few days on our main web site on the left hand side you will see a blue box. That box will say Patriot Guard Outreach. When you access that box you will find a list of resources that will help you gain an understanding of PTSD, what it looks like and what the symptoms are. There will also be helpline phone numbers. Those resources will be available to all that care to read it as well. 

The list will be small at first but will grow in time so be patient, it’s a work in progress. A complete list at the outset but would optimal of course but I don’t want to wait, I don’t think we can afford to wait.

So I’m asking for your buy in, I’m not asking you to be a healthcare professional and please don’t assume that role. All I’m asking is that you pay attention to each other and be willing to provide a little support.

So the question then is …. Are you in?

I will close as always by thanking you for what you do. Cold, hot, wet or dry, we go. We go because our heroes deserve the very best we can give, because they gave us their best. It’s the right thing to do because we are Americans.

Never ever forget that what you do is important, it matters and your effort matters. You are much appreciated.

Ride Safe,