Bikers cruise Bradford for Wayward Vets

Bikers cruise Bradford for Wayward Vets

By Logan Watson

Since the beginnings of American motorcycle culture, bikers and vets have always been intertwined. Veterans of World War II returned home to a world they no longer recognized after witnessing the horrors of war, and one of the only things that could drown out the pain of those memories was the roar of an engine.
Bobby and Mitzi Brooks of Jus’ Bike Me in Bradford are well aware of that connection, and saw a need that had to be filled in the local veteran community. The Brooks have used their ride-ins and rallies to raise money for local causes in the past, but the plight of veterans hit very close to their hearts.
For that reason, the Brooks began the Wayward Veterans Fund, a charitable

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SALUTE – Bobby Brooks (right), co-owner of Jus’ Bike Me in Bradford, honored Albert Markham of Tiptonville for being the oldest vet in attendance at last Sunday’s Salute to Veterans Bikefest. Photo by Logan Watson.

organization that helps veterans that have fallen on hard times after serving their country so valiantly.
“We try to help bridge the gaps between the bills that the Veterans Administration doesn’t cover and help the guys that are down on their luck,” said Bobby Brooks. “We don’t have any big corporate sponsors donating to our cause, but we try to help the vets any way we can.”
The Brooks’ felt that the Wayward Veterans Fund and the ride-in would be a great way to unite the motorcycle community for a cause that has touched almost all of their customers at Jus’ Bike Me.
“The majority of our people are vets,” said Brooks. “We wanted to do something to give back, but how can you do enough to thank these men and women for what they’ve done?”

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LOCAL BRASS HONORS VETS – Brigadier General Don Castellaw (center), of Crockett County, the guest speaker at Jus’ Bike Me’s Salute to Veterans Bikefest, swapped stories with his brothers in arms Sunday afternoon in Bradford.

The Salute to Veterans Bikefest drew a record number of bikers from five states and as far away as Missouri to help support the cause. The event also featured guest speaker Brigadier General Don Castellaw (USMC, Ret.), who shared stories of his days in the desert with his brothers in arms and encouraged them to mobilize and help strengthen their communities in a tumultuous, pre-election time.
“Between Russia, North Korea, failed states and rogue nations, the challenges we have today are like none I’ve ever seen in my 37 years of service,” said Brig. Gen. Castellaw, a Crockett County native. “We, as a nation, tend to default to the military in times like these, but the blood of our men and women should be the last resource we employ in our fight.”
In a time when politicians have divided the country, Brig. Gen. Castellaw offered a more hopeful goal for our veterans to work towards.dsc_9356
“We’ve all been in our share of fistfights, but the way to a better future is not sexy. It’s not being a gunfighter. War is a terrible thing and our vets understand that. We have to ensure that we hold our elected officials to task to improve our infrastructure and strengthen our communities. We have to support them, push them and hold them accountable. It all starts here.”
The Brooks plan on attaining a 501c3 distinction for the organization in the near future. To donate to the Wayward Veterans Fund, contact Bobby or Mitzi Brooks at 742-2227.

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STANDING TALL FOR VETS – Veteran bikers Dave Kuhl (Atwood), Audie (Friendship), Steven Pond (Rutherford) and Norm (Drummond) were just some of the hundreds of vets and motorcycle enthusiasts that cruised into Jus’ Bike Me last Sunday afternoon to support their fellow vets. Photo by Logan Watson.

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