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Daylong event celebrates veterans and their families

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
October 17, 2008
— Veterans and their service will be celebrated Saturday, Oct. 25.

The daylong event will thank, remember and honor all veterans who have served, are serving, gave their lives or have been prisoners of war.


The observance at Kutter Harley-Davidson/Buell in Janesville also will thank and honor veterans’ families.


Harley-Davidson brought its Harley’s Heroes program, which supports disabled American veterans, and its mobile service office to the local dealership last year to help veterans with benefits questions and applications.


“Nineteen people got help,’’ said Lucy Anderson, advertising manager/events director at Kutter.


“That wasn’t adequate enough for what the veterans have done for us,’’ she said.


“I feel when the uniforms come off, the thanking shouldn’t stop. It should continue,’’ Anderson said.


She enlisted representatives from nearly two dozen veterans groups to help her plan a bigger and better veterans event this year. And they have. Their joint efforts have organized “Veterans United for Veterans Celebration and Ride.’’


“It’s a venue for other people to have the privilege of getting a moment with these vets and understanding what they go through on a daily basis,’’ she said.


Anderson respects and admires veterans and understands their issues. Her grandfather served in World War II. Her brother was in the Army, and her brother-in-law was in the Air Force for 25 years. She also lost an uncle in the Vietnam War and has another uncle who is commander of the Orfordville American Legion.


That’s why she and other event organizers want to bring awareness to the public about the men and women who have served their country.


“They’re unbelievable,’’ she said.


Veterans United will feature food vendors, discounts on merchandise for veterans, displays of military vehicles and Vietnam gear and weapons, in addition to a replica of a bamboo prisoner of war cage made by two Madison Disabled American Veterans chapter members.


Also planned is a poker run, with registration from 9 to 11 a.m. at Kutter and stops at the Evansville VFW/American Legion, Orfordville American Legion, Beloit Marine Corps League and Janesville VFW.


The goal is to raise at least several thousand dollars. The poker run costs $15 per bike and $5 for additional rider, and Veterans United for Veterans and DAV Harley’s Heroes pins are $5 each. Proceeds will benefit area veterans organizations.


Ceremonies will start at 9 a.m. with posting of the colors and presenting of service flags for branches of the military.


Other scheduled activities are:


-- 3:30 p.m.—Speakers, including Richard E. Marbes, past DAV national commander.


-- 3:45 p.m.—POW/MIA ceremony.


-- 4 p.m.—Flag-folding ceremony with a 21-gun rifle salute and taps.


-- 4:15 p.m.—Three-man living statue and three nurses with wounded soldier ceremony.


“This is the largest gathering of veterans organizations in the state of Wisconsin,” Anderson said.


HARLEY’S HEROES

Harley’s Heroes, a program of Harley-Davidson that supports the Disabled American Veterans, helps build better lives for America’s millions of disabled veterans and their families.


Its mobile service office and staff will be at Kutter Harley-Davidson/Buell’s Veterans United for Veterans Celebration on Saturday, Oct. 25.


Who does Harley’s Heroes Help?

America’s disabled veterans and their families, widowed spouses and orphans by providing free assistance to obtain benefits and services earned through their military service.


Services are free and one-on-one assistance programs includes:


-- Transition Service Program—Assisting active-duty service members during difficult transition back to civilian life.


-- Claim Representation Services—Assisting veterans and their families in filing claims for VA disability compensation, rehabilitation, pensions and death benefits.


-- DAV Transportation Network—Providing veterans transportation to and from their homes for VA medical appointments. The program is staffed by the DAV Volunteer Network of 9,000 people and operates in 172 VA health-care facilities throughout the United States.


-- DAV Mobile Service Office—This office on wheels, staffed by trained DAV professional counselors who develop and process veterans’ claims, visited more than 600 communities in 2006. Its mission is to provide veterans and their families with easy access to benefits, education and counseling.



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