MENASHA, Wis (WBAY) – An effort is underway to make sure hundreds of veterans around the state have some warm clothes for the upcoming winter months.
Since 2006, the Patriot Guard Riders of Wisconsin have traveled to communities across the state to ensure dignity and honor at funerals of fallen service members.
To bring holiday cheer to veterans in need, the Patriot Guard Riders started Operation Christmas Angel in 2014, and quickly discovered there was more it could do.
“Then we received other calls from veterans who were just getting sick, they didn’t have jackets, they didn’t have hats, they didn’t have gloves, didn’t have any winter clothing whatsoever,” says Mark Goebel, Patriot Guard Riders Assistant State Captain.
Thanks to the “Share the Warmth” campaign, more than 250 veterans received the winter clothes they needed last winter.
Right now, close to 500 are on the list.
“You see the look in their eyes and you just know they’re so thankful and so grateful just simply that someone cared,” says Goebel.
“What the Patriot Guard Riders do is incredible,” adds Kent Falstad, a program manager for the State Department of Veterans Affairs.
Falstad works helping veterans transition into permanent housing.
It’s estimated roughly 2,000 Wisconsin veterans are homeless right now, -and many others are struggling.
“If a guy has left military service and not transitioned well, some of those barriers and obstacles, experiences, difficult things that they experienced in the military can not always transfer well back into the family,” says Falstad.
“It’s bringing attention to the fact that the plight of the homeless or near homeless veterans is absolutely heartbreaking, these are men and women who stood for us, who fought for us, who’ve sacrificed for us, we just want to make sure they just have the basic necessities that we all take for granted,” says Goebel.
For more information on the Share the Warmth campaign, which runs now through October 31, go to http://www.patriotguard-wi.org/