A scruffy, long-haired, bearded man stood in front of a group of both physically and psychologically injured service members at Wounded Warrior Battalion-East aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune May 23.
The Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association visited with wounded warriors and showed their appreciation by providing donations and gift certificates from local businesses as part of Operation Devil Dog, an annual charity event put on by the CVMA.
The association, which is a group of combat veterans from all branches of the Armed Forces, has a passion for motorcycles and a mission to support and defend the men, women and families of those who have defended the United States.
The original chapter was formed in 2001 and has since grown into a national organization with more than 7,000 members.
“Our focus is to help veteran care facilities provide a warm meal, clothing, shelter, and guidance, or simply to say thank you and welcome home,” said H. T. “Hooch” Huchi, NC CMVA15-4 commander who dedicated 25 years to the Marine Corps and served two tours in Afghanistan.
His beaded beard draped over his denim riding vest as Huchi’s eyes welled with tears.
“Everyone in our organization is a combat veteran so we’ve all been there, seen and done that,” said Huchi. “We’ve all been around and seen a lot of things. We’ve lost a lot of friends and it’s hard. Sometimes you actually feel guilty because you’re still here and they’re not but doing this really helps. It’s therapeutic for us, and it’s therapeutic for the warriors.”
The association sponsors and participates in many motorcycle-related charity events each year, and as a non-profit organization, donates to various veteran care facilities and veteran charities.
“We focus on individuals,” said Huchi. “We do a lot of poker runs and rides for specific Marines. When we can make an impact on an individual’s life, it’s huge.”
During their time at the battalion, the CVMA shared stories of their time in combat with the wounded warriors.
“There are counselors out there for these guys and that’s great,” said Huchi. “It’s well needed, but when you get veterans to sit around and talk to each other, it means a lot more. We just want them to know we care about them, we appreciate them and we’re doing things to try to help them out. Sometimes when you’re down, a hand shake and a pat on the back can make your day.”