When soldiers get out of the service, many feel the absence of being around their fellow soldiers.
“One of the things you’re missing is the camaraderie with guys and gals who understand and have the same challenges mentally and emotionally,” said Ty Rosburg, president of the Soldier Valley American Legion Riders.
While the numbers at many Legion Posts in the area has been dropping, Rosburg said there are a lot of kids from the area coming back from combat and overseas service.
About five years ago, Rosburg, with help from Melvin Goslar, formed the Soldier Valley American Legion Riders for veterans who enjoy riding motorcycles.
“Its a way to reach out to the young guys,” Rosburg said. “It gives them an avenue into the Legion and a support group. The group was a great way to get them active.”
Rosburg noted that they didn’t want to name the Legion Riders after one town specifically because they wanted to reach a large geographic area.
The Soldier Valley American Legion Riders members come from Charter Oak, Soldier, Ute, Arcadia, Vail, Westside, Mapleton, and Schleswig.
Legion Rider members have to be a member of an American Legion Post in order to join the group.
Currently, there are 19 members in the Soldier Valley American Legion Riders. Rosburg said they typically average 11 to 13 members at their monthly meetings. The requirements include owning a motorcycle (750ccs or more), be a veteran, be a Legion member, have motorcycle insurance, and a motorcycle license.
The members of the group share a special bond. Rosburg said two of the group’s active members have passed away, and the Legion Riders now wear a special little patch on the back of their vest to honor them.
Soldier Valley American Legion Riders assist with funerals and take part in flag-raising ceremonies.
During 2019, the group helped at the 150th celebrations in Dow City and Westside, along with opening ceremonies at the Crawford County Fair. Fourteen members took part in the Westside celebration.
Rosburg said you will not generally see the Legion Riders in area parades because most members have Harleys and parades do not move fast enough to keep the motorcycles cool enough.
The group also takes part in welcoming veterans home from Honor Flights.
The Soldier Valley American Legion Riders likes to give back to the community by doing fundraisers, like the raffling of rifles and grills.
“All that money raised goes back into the community,” Rosburg said.
They also help with scholarships for events like Boys State and Girls State, as well as donations to kids Christmas programs. They have also donated money towards the Charter Oak Community Building project.
“We are about helping to expand the future,” Rosburg said. “We hope when kids see us out there, it gives them positive images of veterans and old soldiers so they might take pride in the same things we do, and one day, they’ll want to be someone like that.”
Rosburg enjoys being involved with the group because riding motorcycles is something he, and his fellow members, enjoy. It brings people of a similar mindset together and gets them involved in the community.
“It’s a good past-time that creates a positive effect,” said Rosburg.