By MELINDA WILLIAMS
Military veterans from United Auto Workers (UAW) 2069 in Dublin will host its 14th annual poker run to the Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital in Salem Sunday.
Mark Peterson, UAW Veterans Committee chairman, said motorcyclists throughout the New River Valley are invited to join in the poker run. Registration will be held at the union hall at 9 a.m. Riders leave precisely at 10:30.
Poker run participants enjoy in a countryside journey through Eggleston, Newport and New Castle, en route to the VA Hospital.
Committee member Eric Patton said, “The VA Hospital poker run promises to be a celebration of great spirit as we recognize and pay tribute to the service and sacrifices of the veterans/patients at the medical center.
The veterans at the VA are humble but proud of their service. When we recognize the service branches, it’s turns into a competition of who can hoot and ooh-rah the loudest!” he added
The recognition program includes certificates of appreciation, tokens of gratitude and lots of hand clapping and singing, according to Patton. The veterans committee also provides a pizza party and speakers comment on the veterans’ honorable service.
“We particularly enjoy sponsoring activities at the Veterans Hospital in Salem. Over the years, the committee has gained a good reputation at the VA for providing a very festive and party-like atmosphere with the patients and staff. It’s a tremendous and fun-filled day for everyone!” said Mark Peterson.
Each year, the committee schedules three or four events at the Veterans Hospital, including a huge catfish fry and an inspiring and warm-hearted Christmas party.
Peterson added, “We have a great support base around the NRV, our closest friends are the NRV Christian Motorcycle Association (CMA), at the union hall the CMA will provide bike blessings and offer any help needed. They’re a great group that supports God and Country.”
Many white and blue collar workers and public servants will be involved in Sunday’s run. Peterson said they are appreciative and are privileged to have the opportunity to host an event that brings so many good people together.
“At the VA Hospital, we are reminded of the problems that afflict those who answered the call of duty on and off of the battlefield. Their problems range from the terminally ill to outpatient care. We are reminded that many veterans do without, because they, too, suffer from stringent budget cuts,” said Peterson. “All across America, we find some of the oldest and most disabled, yet charming and wonderful veterans that eagerly look forward to a fun filled day and a little new camaraderie. For sure … it will be a blessed day.”