On Member Monday we highlight our members involved in their communities. Today we highlight Aaron Bahe, a Marine Corps veteran, and an active member of MN DAV Chapter 39 and the American Legion.
Bahe has volunteered on numerous Chapter committees providing support for Veterans and Families in and around Anoka and surrounding counties. He volunteers his time to help Chapter clothing drives, the annual Forget-Me-Not campaigns, and grocery bagging fundraisers. His passions include spending time with his wife on his hobby farm in Anoka and has been the proud host for many years of the annual MN DAV Chapter 39 and Auxiliary Unit 39 picnics.
Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day falls on September 26 this year and is traditionally observed on the last Sunday in September. The day is for honoring families of those who have received The Gold Star – the military award no one wants. The award commemorates the tragic death of a military member who has perished while in the line of duty and hopes to provide a level of comfort to the parents and families that are left behind.
Since World War 1, a “Gold Star Family” has signified a family that has lost one of its members in combat. The family can display a Gold Star Service Flag for any military family members who have died from any honorable cause – each gold star on the flag signifies a death. Though today only around 1% of the country is involved in military service, as compared to the 12% during other times of war, like World War 2, there are still a significant number of surviving Gold Star families – not to mention, a Gold Star lives on in a family’s legacy. Presidential Proclamation on Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day, 2021 at https://www.va.gov/durham-health-care/news-releases/a-proclamation-on-gold-star-mothers-and-familys-day-2021/
On Member Monday we highlight our members involved in their communities. Today we recognize Nancy Berndt, an active member of MN DAV Auxiliary Unit 39 and a past unit commander. In addition to volunteering her time for fundraising events, such as the annual DAV Forget-Me-Not campaigns, bake sales, providing holiday gifts to the Minneapolis Veterans Home and Veterans residing in congregate living facilities, and serving two terms as the Minnesota DAV Auxiliary.
Wife of Scott Berndt (who also served for two terms as the MN DAV commander and is the MN DAV Chapter 39 adjutant), her two passions are spending time with her family and supporting Veterans and their families in Anoka and surrounding counties.
MN DAV Chapter 39 members Travis Rust and Ken Plant have discovered they have a lot in common. They both served in the Marine Corps. A generation apart, they both were stationed at the Marine Air Wing at Cherry Point, NC (Rust as a Harrier mechanic, Plant as a correspondent). They both serve on the Annual Leo Luskey DAV Golf Tournament fundraising committee and both receive ongoing physical therapy at the Minneapolis VAMC.
Rust and Plant have come to a NEW and mutual realization, some of the best therapy does not have to come from the VA Mental Health clinic. In fact, spending the morning in a boat with volunteer fishing guide David VanDoorn, can have significant and positive mental health value. Rust and Plant participated in the “Ken Yontz” Take-A-Veteran Fishing event on Sunday, Sept. 19, along with other Veterans. The two Marines spent the day on Lake Minnetonka which included a morning of fishing followed by lunch with a variety of informational and educational speakers. The event is just one of the outdoor programs offered to Veterans by the Operation Outdoor Freedom Foundation https://operationfishingfreedom.com/
VanDoorn was their fishing guide that morning and helped them boat some nice-sized bass. The two DAV members spent the morning talking about how the DAV supports Veterans and their Families, as well as how both the DAV and Minneapolis VA Hospital has helped them with their own struggles since leaving the service. The professional guide shared how Operation Outdoor Freedom Foundation has also helped Veterans and Family members.
All three agreed in the boat that morning, that fishing, as well as other outdoor sports, has meaningful therapy for the “mind and soul.” VanDoorn volunteers to take Veterans fishing throughout Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota up to 150 days per year. More about Take-A-Vet fishing can be found at http://takeavetfishing.org/
Just some of the supportive organizations attendees learned about included…
On Member Monday we highlight our members involved in their communities. Today we recognize Chris Forbes, a junior member of MN DAV Auxiliary Unit 39 and Scouting Troop 582, Rogers, Minnesota. Forbes sought help from the golf community in August with a goal of refurbishing 20 sets of golf clubs and accessories for Veterans in need. The project was part of his quest to get Veterans involved in the outdoor sport which he’s discovered can have significant therapeutic value and achieve Eagle Scout.
Forbes reached out for support from the PGA of Minnesota foundations, Benny Mento of the PGA HOPE & PGA Tour Superstore, Matt Just of Shamrock Golf Course, Tom Wiebusch of Pheasant Acres Golf Course and Eric Larson of Fox Hollow Golf Course, the MN Veteran Golfers Facebook Group, and Trust Vets of MN community to include James Dvorak, who donated 20 sets of clubs to Chris’ project.
“I received hundreds of golf clubs,” reports Forbes. “I was able to recruit 10 teenage volunteers and five adults to help clean, sort, rewrap and refurbish 32 complete sets of clubs at the PGA Tour Superstore in Minnetonka, on August 29, 2021. In the first week of September, we have presented two sets of clubs to Veterans, two sets went to the Magnus Foundation for Disabled Veterans for use on their premises. One set is being presented to the MN DAV Chapter 39 to be used as a prize for one of the organization’s largest annual fundraisers, the Leo Luskey DAV Golf Tournament. “My biggest challenge now is identifying Veterans to accept a set of clubs,” says Forbes. “If any Veteran organizations or individuals know a Veteran in need, please have them email firstname.lastname@example.org.
His dad is a Trust Vets of MN member and an active member of the DAV. MN DAV Chapter 39 helped sponsor Chris to attend the Omaha Beach Scouting Camporee for the 75th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy. Both Chris and his brother, Andrew, are both DAVA members as wells as the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and have been in the Scouting program for more than nine years. Andrew is completing his own Eagle project on Sept. 18. In addition to golfing, Chris enjoys the challenge of hockey and plans on becoming an entrepreneur, getting a BA in finance and a master’s degree in business administration.
DAVs FINAL 2021 Clothing Drive This Weekend: MN DAV Chapter 39 Clothing Drive coming to County Market, 13735 Round Lake Blvd., Andover, MN 55304 on Sat. Sept. 18 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, and Sun., Sept. 19th, from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. Look for our DAV trailer and volunteers in the parking lot. Proceeds from the clothing drive supports area Veterans. Please bag or box your clothing, shoes, and small household items.
On Member Monday we highlight our members involved in their communities. Today we recognize Laurie Pekarik, an active member of MN DAV Auxiliary Unit 39 and past unit commander. In addition to volunteering her time for fundraising events, such as the upcoming annual DAV Forget-Me-Not campaign, she served as the MN DAV Auxiliary State Commander for two terms from 2014 to 2016 and was an elected National Executive Committee member for two terms from 2017-2018 representing Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana. For the MN DAV Auxiliary Unit 39 Pekarik has been elected to numerous offices supporting area Veterans in Anoka and surrounding counties. She continues to serve on the Leo Luskey Annual DAV Golf Tournament, one of MN DAV Chapter 39’s largest fundraisers.
In addition to spending time with her family, her other passion is volunteering at the Fort Snelling National Cemetery for the past four years. Serving with the Honor Society for Veteran Honor she provides assistance to family members and conducts presentations for the surviving spouse or designated family member on behalf of the Dept. of Defense Joint Chiefs of Staff. She also represents the DAV Auxiliary one day a week bringing comfort items and quilts to in-patient Veterans at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center. She’s the wife of Edward Pekarik, a career Army Veteran and Lifetime member of MN Chapter 39 who passed in Oct. 2011.
MN DAV Chapter 39 and Auxiliary Unit 39 will conduct their monthly member meetings on Thursday, Sept. 9 at 6:30 PM at the VFW, Coon Rapids Blvd., Coon Rapids, MN 55433. The Chapter and Auxiliary Unit is in need of additional volunteers for the DAV Forget-Me-Not campaign on Sept. 10, 11, and 12. The final clothing drive will be held at County Market on Sept. 18 and 19 and could use some additional volunteers. Sign-up sheets to support will be at the meeting or you can call the Chapter Adjutant. The Unit is looking for female veterans to enjoy a free Spa Day in October. Call Nancy Berndt for details at (763) 427-3544. COVID-19 Variant cases continue to rise in Anoka County. CDC and MN Dept. of Health recommends wear of masks for indoor gatherings, and “mandates” wear for those unvaccinated. https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view