It is with a common love of riding motorcycles and fellowshipping with other veterans, that the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association Kentucky 1-6 was formed in Ohio County.
The Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association is a national association with 21,000 members worldwide — with chapters also in Germany and Korea. The association is made up of all branches of the United States Armed Forces who ride motorcycles as a hobby. The mission of the organization is to support and defend those who have defended our country and our freedoms.
Michael Adkins, of Beaver Dam, first joined CVMA in May 2015 as a member of the closest chapter which was in Rineyville, located just outside of Elizabethtown in Hardin County.
“From that point on, my goal was to get a chapter here because this side of the state is really not touched by (the club),” said Adkins, local chapter commander.
Tim Arnold, of Hartford, the group’s public affairs officer, came on board with the group shortly after Adkins, and soon after the group from this area grew to five.
The local members began organizing fundraising efforts as part of the Rineyville Chapter, but soon found themselves looking to start a chapter of their own as the two closest chapters are the one in Rineyville and the chapter in Paducah.
“It has always been a brain child of mine, but we had some guys from our Rineyville chapter that said they would love to come down and help us stand up and we eventually made the numbers that our national chapter requires us to have to stand up as a chapter,” Adkins said.
On Dec. 6, after a four-week push to become a national chapter, CVMA Kentucky 1-6 was approved by the National Body to become the sixth chapter in the state of Kentucky. The chapter currently has 18 full members and 4 auxiliary from Ohio, Daviess, Hancock and Grayson Counties.
The group not only ride together, but they hold monthly meetings to discuss things that they have done or would like to do to help area veterans, and the organization has already begun several projects to help assist.
While still members of the Rineyville Chapter, the local group started Bike Night on Tuesday nights at Los Mexicanos restaurant in Beaver Dam. They have raised over $2,500 over two summers.
“My original intent for it was to raise money for combat vets in Kentucky,” Adkins said. “The owner gladly accepted and then it turned into not only raising money for combat vets in Kentucky, but also supporting a local business as well … The community has been very supportive of us.”
CVMA Kentucky 1-6 is also partnering with St. Benedict’s Homeless Shelter in Owensboro, who is spearheading a project called Honor House. The group is assisting St. Benedict’s in remodeling a house which will serve as a transitional house for four homeless veterans.
“St. Benedict’s runs the homeless shelter (in Owensboro) and they kept seeing the number of veterans grow over the years and they wanted to do this to sort of help to transition these folks from homelessness back to normal working everyday society and I think it is going to be great … It is a great partnership and something that we hope to continue through the years.”
This year the local chapter did a toy drive for a military unit’s children and helped with the annual Echols Christmas parade and party.
“Those are the things our organization like to support. We have a large area that we can cover so we can help many veterans in multiple areas around here and that’s our goal,” Adkins said.
There are also many other future fundraising projects in the works for 2018. Each chapter has one major fundraising event annually held at various times of the year, according to Adkins. He said the group will look to the community to assist during that event by donating items for raffles and silent auctions. Money raised from that event will go to assist vets and their families in needs. They also plan to sell smoked hams the Saturday before Easter and possibly do some type of 9-11 commemorative motorcycle ride in September.
“There are all kinds of opportunities to raise money, but it’s not necessarily all about the money. If we can go to the nursing home one Saturday a month and visit with a veteran — sometimes that is more helpful than being able to provide them with financial support,” Arnold said.
Adkins said there are other things that are on the group’s to-do-list as well. He has spoken with the homeless shelter for women and children in Beaver Dam about possibly opening a veterans wing for homeless female vets and their children and is in talks with the City of Beaver Dam about the future possibility of having a veterans section in the city cemetery.
“We are still in that new phase and there is still a ton of stuff to do in the planning stage,” Adkins said.
Brotherhood and fellowship is the main part of the organization and helping veterans goes right along with that, Adkins said. The chapter hopes to grow the number of members in the coming year.
“We are hoping to get our name out to other veterans that love to ride and would like to join a brotherhood that loves it,” Adkins said.
The group is family-oriented and both Adkins and Arnold want the community to know that they are not a “big-bad biker gang,” but a group of family-oriented veterans who are approachable and want to raise awareness of veterans’ needs.
“It is important to give back to those who have given so much for our nation and our society,” Adkins said.
—Dana Brantley, MyKYNews