Group Rides to Support Wounded Vets

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 9, 2008 - Wounded veterans recovering in some California Veterans Affairs facilities hear some of their visitors long before they see them.

Blue Star Riders is a group of motorcycle enthusiasts who visit with veterans recovering at the Palo Alto, Livermore, Martinez and San Francisco Veterans Affairs facilities at least once a month, said Richard Hamilton, the group's founder and president.

"(Blue Star Riders) are dedicated to supporting our troops and veterans, as well as honoring all wounded troops and fallen heroes," said Hamilton, a former Marine and Vietnam veteran.

Members of the group visit with as many veterans as possible during each of their visits. "If there is family present, we ... ascertain whether there is anything they need," he said.

Often, when veterans move to California from military medical facilities on the East Coast, their families have used up many of their resources or are unable to get around, Hamilton explained. Blue Star Riders help in any way they can, including providing transportation, he said.

The group also sends requested items to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, in Germany.

Blue Star Riders is a new supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.

The group hopes its affiliation with America Supports You will increase awareness that hospitalized veterans would enjoy having visitors, Hamilton said, and that the affiliation will "bring a focus on the families of our wounded active military and their sacrifices while attending to their loved ones, and their need for support."

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