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VFW Magazine September 2017 : Page 21

PURPOSE A VFW MEMBER FROM OHIO RODE HIS BIKE ACROSS THE COUNTRY EARLIER THIS YEAR. HE RAISED MORE THAN $12,000 TO HELP REPLACE A VAN FOR A WEST VIRGINIA POST DEVASTATED BY FLOODS IN JUNE 2016. THE TRIP ALSO RENEWED HIS HOPE FOR VETERANS. WITH A F rom the marshy coastal plains of the Deep South to the deserts and moun-tains of the Southwest, Tom Wiseman traveled across the southern U.S. on a fundraising mission for VFW Post 4419 in Clay, W. Va. In June 2016, that part of the Mountain State was devastated by floods that left 24 people dead and hundreds of homes and businesses damaged or destroyed. The losses also included Post 4419’s 15-passenger van that was used to take the county’s veterans to receive health care and for other Post activities. After learning about Post 4419’s prob-lem, Wiseman, a Marine Corps veter-an who served during the Vietnam War, decided to take action by helping to raise funds for a replacement van. “With everything that happened dur-ing the floods last year and the sacrific-es of the service members from West Virginia during the Vietnam War, I knew I wanted to help them out,” said Wiseman, a member of VFW Post 3360 in Defiance, Ohio. According to the West Virginia Humanities Council, 1,182 of the 36,578 West Virginians who served during the Vietnam War were killed, which is more than the reported national average. ‘A GREAT EXPERIENCE’ With help from the AMVETS post in Defiance, Wiseman decided that the best way to raise awareness and funds for Post 4419 was to ride his bike across the United States. The 3,100-mile journey took him through eight states — Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California — over the course of three months. “This has been a great experience,” Wiseman said after finishing the trip. “One of the things I learned was how much people truly respect and care MERICA BY DAVE SPIVA LEFT: Tom Wiseman, member of VFW Post 3360 in Defiance, Ohio, dips his feet in the Pacific Ocean May 16 at the end of a cross-country trip. Wiseman completed the three-month-long trek as a part of a mission to help a West Virginia VFW Post purchase a vehicle to replace a van that was lost during floods in June 2016. SEPTEMBER 2017   • WWW.VFW.ORG • 21

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