Save Veterans Home California – Barstow from Closure
By Jerry Nichols
This event was held in Barstow, CA. Deemed a battle to save the home of over 200 veteran residents and staff from shutdown, this was round two of an effort to save the home from a suggested shutdown by our Governor Gavin Newsom just to plug a small hole in the California budget, San Bernardino County Assemblyman Jay Obernolte stated he is cautiously optimistic that it won’t happen; Governor Newsom can’t write the budget, he can only make a suggestion; the California State Legislature will tell him No. The Senate Budget Committee has voted it down and the proposal was deemed unacceptable.
Assemblyman Obernolte stated that his committee will continue to fight for the Barstow Veterans Home, and so will we. A Facebook page was created in support of the Veterans Home and now has over 8,000 members in the group. Our numbers are strong. We mustn’t allow this to happen to our beloved veterans.
I myself decided to join the cause and put out a flyer asking for members of my community to join me and bring a voice to help save the home. I was happy to find out so many of my neighbors were interested in giving up their holiday off to do something good for the vulnerable up there in Barstow. It was simple really, I just asked them to join me on my birthday for a ride up to Barstow to help save the home from shutting down.
The turnout was outstanding, approximately thirty of my neighbors were happy to join in. I set the time and place to meet up and we rolled on time out of Helendale. We ascended National Trails Highway AKA the Mother Road, Route 66. I watched in my rear view mirror as our pack was as strong as could be, everyone in sync and perfectly staggered.
I noticed the flag I had mounted on my ‘03 Road King was on the verge of pulling free, so I kept our speed at about 55mph, as I wouldn’t want to lose this flag, not today, not now, I said to myself. As it turned out, it was a great run up the trail to Barstow, as folks on the road gave us respect; there were no cut-ins and traffic gave way to our procession. Upon our arrival we were greeted by one of the event organizers who instructed us where to fall in.
Joining with our group was a group of horse riders as well, led by Deena and Jim Heffel of the Roy Rogers Ranch. You see, they are accustomed to riding events like this, and Jim every year rides into Riverside National Cemetery with West Coast Thunder. However that run and, as you know, many others have been postponed or cancelled. Joining them was our own San Bernardino Search and Rescue Deputy, Miss Artie DeVries riding on her horse John Wayne.
They staged up near the Veterans Home to cheer us all on, along with hundreds of flag-waving supporters, car clubs and riding clubs and organizations all came together under one shield. The one to bring the voice to save Barstow.
The residents of the home were outdoors to greet us by waving, many of them wearing face masks for protection, and there were easy-ups and chairs set up for them as well. A big thank you to the Police, Highway Patrol, Fire Department and City Council of Barstow to help out with this highly successful event attended by over 5,000 participants.I left with a great feeling in my gut as today was for The Good Ones. Keep riding for what is good.
–Visit www.calvet.ca.gov/vethomes/pages/barstow.aspx for more information.