State Captain's Message

Patriot Guard Riders - Wisconsin
Thanksgiving 2017 Newsletter

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As we approach the Thanksgiving Holiday, you know that I am thankful for this organization and the great family it has become to so many people. From the families we serve, to our members, to the public who share their appreciation for what we do, I know in my heart this family has more true love and caring than we could ever hope for. As I always say, I get to see the wonder of the things we do and I get to talk to every family that has lost someone. I've heard, "From the time they appeared at our door, until the moment you met us and said you would be here to take care of anything we needed, I don't remember anything in between. I could finally breathe again." I've heard, "I came home today from work, went to my kitchen, cooked dinner, and sat on my couch to watch TV." Then I remembered, as I heard him choke up a little, this was a "young" man who had been homeless and on the streets for 20+ years. This was HIS new job and HIS kitchen and HIS pots and pans and plates and silverware, and HIS couch TV. HIS strength is supported by donations from people who believe in vets like this and believe in us and by those who loaded and unloaded new beginnings for about 80 vets and their families this year. You know I could amble on until you're eating leftovers but to quote a famous Tiny lad, "God Bless us, everyone."

Now back to my regularly scheduled pleading

We need help everywhere with everything.

  1. Help getting this to all members (more on that soon). Please forward this to everyone you know in the PGR to make sure they get it somehow...
  2. We need members to attend missions. I know there are a lot of reasons we can't all attend as much as we want. PLEASE attend 2 missions this year. If we did that we'd have about 20 members at every mission.
  3. We need Ride Captains in the Northwest and Southwest. Two RCs cover everything from Superior to La Crosse to Beloit. Contact me if you have 8-10 missions behind you and would be willing to do 4 missions a year.
  4. We need to do Public Relations everywhere. The good news is that missions are down, the bad news is that our missions are what people see and the main reason they join. If you'd like to do some PR work, contact me.
  5. Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is a Treasurer. Please keep the pony, I need someone to do very basic bookkeeping.
Operation Christmas Angel
Full kickoff was last weekend and the Big Elf (whose initials are Mark Goebel) is already processing letters to Santa and sending lists to Elves and Angels. If you can help somehow, send him a note. The Grand Wrap-up is set for December 17th.

There have been a number of situations recently regarding the availability and use of Patriot Guard Riders flags. Some philosophy and historical background is in order.

  • When the Patriot Guard Riders formed 12 years ago, it was done with the belief that it was and always should be a volunteer organization and any donations or funds raised were to be strictly used to benefit those we serve. Every penny is to directly serve our heroes.
  • That philosophy has been a cornerstone of the decisions in Wisconsin since Day 1. Any donations not marked by the donor for a specific cause is used for the support of our active military, veterans, and their families. We get 2-3 donations a year marked for the upkeep of our operations and use that to maintain the flags we have and we have built a few sets.
  • You should note that the first sets were built with materials donated by a member and the flags were provided by Illinois PGR when a family donated hundreds of flags to them. The materials for our second sets were also donated and so it goes. Three members built their own sets.
  • With that understanding, we provide some flags at missions but it is not a "right" that you have by joining the organization to have the use of a flag. They were originally created for many who were new and had no flag but came out of respect. Many states do not provide flags. On more complex missions we often have 2-3 RCs available with additional flags.

    On a personal note, the original flag lines with dozens of make shift poles from painters poles to 8 foot oak staffs to my personal 6 foot aluminum house pole from True Value with the flag zip tied on showed that we are individuals, coming together. (The Hide-a-Pole which is available through National was a golf ball retriever. I have 3.)

  • Every member that has joined in the past received an automatic e-mail to contact their State Captain and I tell them to read the top threads in the forum. In that forum I discuss flags and suggest every member have a flag of their own for missions. The reasons are obvious as:
    • There may be times when a Ride Captain is not available or is delayed or doesn't have flags available.
    • No matter how many flags we have, we may have more members than flags.
    • We often invite others to join us if we don't have many members and if members show up later we cannot in good conscience "take their flags away".
In consideration of the above:
  1. We will have a standard number of flags available to be used as the Ride Captain sees fit and appropriate considering the mission.
  2. We list a staging time and the Ride Captain will issue the flags to members as they arrive. After the ride briefing we will establish a flagline and, if there are enough flags available, invite others to join us.
  3. It is strongly suggested that every member have a flag and pole available should it be needed.
  4. All PGR property must be returned to the Ride Captain that issued it at the end of the mission, i.e. you get a flag from Sandy, you return it to Sandy.
  5. Every member will follow the standards on the National PGR site regarding flag handling.
Please contact me or Assistant State Captain Mark Goebel with any questions.

And last but not least

As most of you are aware, National has been working on the data system for years. The latest version had severe glitches and they instituted a new Mission Notification System. We have sent out the information on how to sign up (it's at the top of Nationals web site) and last week we were told it doesn't work on mobile devices or basically 90% of our members don't get notifications. Effective December 1st we are asking all members to sign up on Constant Contact, an independent e-mail processor. I know it works well with all devices and a number of states use it. Details will be on the Facebook page, the Wisconsin Forum in National and the state web site.

Thankful for every one of you,


John Curran
State Captain
Patriot Guard Riders - Wisconsin