RIDING FOR HOMELESS VETERANS: GARY RISHFORTH, SR.

Marine Vietnam Veteran Is Riding His Horse To Raise Awareness About the Plight of Homeless Veterans

    Gary Rishforth, Sr., is a Vietnam veteran who knows what it means to be homeless. He's been there, done that. He also knows what it means to be responsible for the lives of fellows soldiers. Gary served in Vietnam for 18 months as an infantryman in the U. S. Marine Corps. He was at Khe Sahn after the seige was lifted, and fought in the Battle of Hue City. Just as he cared for his friends in Vietnam, Gary cares about his fellow veterans who do not have a regular place to live. "I want to help them any way I can. That's what this is all about," Rishforth recently told a reporter for the Medford Mail Tribune.
    Gary plans to ride 14,000 miles during a three-to-four-year journey that will take him through every state except Hawaii. On July 14, 2005, COVO board members Rob Bryce and Stu Steinberg picked up Gary and his horses near Sweethome and brought him back to the Bend area where he attended several functions that COVO organized on his behalf. On Friday, July 15, a reception was held in Gary's honor at VFW Post 1643 in Bend. We were honored that Medal of Honor winner Bob Maxwell, a member of the VFW Post, came by to meet Gary. When Gary rold Bob that he was "honored" to meet him, Bob said, "No, the honor is all mine. I think what you're doing is a great thing." Senator Bend Westlund also attended and added his signature to the American flag that Gary is carrying with him. At the end of the night, COVO presented Gary with $146.00 that was raised during the reception.

    On Saturday, July 16, Gary and COVO members staged a "Ride for Homeless Veterans" through downtown Bend. Senator Westlund and Christy Meyer, a local TV reporter, joined us on the ride. Along the route, people came up to us and donated another $50.00 to help Gary in his efforts. Gary decided that he would use that $50.00 to become a three-year member of High Desert Chapter 820, Vietnam Veterans of America, the group that founded COVO. As a result, COVO made a commitment to see that other VVA chapters around the country help Gary along his route as he travels through their areas. The ride in Bend was so successful, that COVO and Gary will stage a second ride on Saturday, August 6 in Prineville. Since we have more time to advertise, and with the help of the Crook County American Legion and Auxiliary, many more riders will participate. The riders and marchers will make their way to the POW/MIA monuments in Ochoco Creek Park for a flag folding ceremony and prayers for our POWs and MIAs, with a special prayer for our homeless brothers and sisters. VVA Chaptr 820 Chaplain, Doug Cole, will lead the ceremony. When the ride is over, the local Legion Post and Auxiliary will hold a cookout and several fund-raising events at the Prineville Veterans Hall.
Central Oregon Veterans Outreach, Inc. www.covo-usa.org
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Central Oregon Veterans Outreach, Inc.
1036 NE 5th St. Bend, Or. 97701
Phone (541) 383-2793
Fax (541) 312-2084
www.COVO-USA.org