Patriot Guard Riders will don winter gear and escort a new three bedroom two bath home from Springfield to Custer in the Black Hills on March 4. This house will become a vacation home to qualifying veterans and their immediate family.
“It’s our thank you gift for returning veterans from Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn,” said Pat Baird, co-founder of Operation Black Hills Cabin. “This project is designed to offer a week long respite to a qualifying veteran, at little or no expense to them to reconnect with their family and enjoy the beauty of the Black Hills.”
The effort was inspired by an Oprah show where South Dakota native, Tom Brokaw, interviewed Corey and Jenny Briest from Yankton. While serving with the National Guard in Iraq, Corey returned from combat gravely wounded after being hit by a roadside bomb.
“We all have to re-enlist as citizens,” Brokaw said.
That means raising our consciousness about the wars and also to do something about it.
“Families in this country need to know what they can do,” Brokaw said. “You must honor these people and their families.”
He refers to them as the “bravest Americans.”
A group of Custer citizens made arrangements for a donated house, and the city of Custer donated land. Furnishings are being obtained through grants, donations and house showers by local groups when the house arrives after a 375-mile journey across the state. The board plans to have it ready to welcome guests in late spring. An open house is scheduled for the afternoon of April 18.
“It will be a place to re-connect,” said Baird. “It is a place where a family can have time together to enjoy the attractions of the Black Hills – Crazy Horse, Custer State Park, Mount Rushmore and many others, and to dine in local restaurants without the pressure of paying for a vacation. Black Hills businesses have been very generous with free admissions and meals and they reach out to the Veteran and personally thank them for their service.”
This permanent home will be available to host families six months a year and veterans are encouraged to visit www.operationblackhillscabin.org to download an application for consideration.