Editor’s Note: This continues our Celebrate Community series on nonprofit organizations that improve Santa Rosa County residents’ quality of life.

MILTON — The Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association’s local chapters hosted the fourth annual PTSD Awareness Ride April 8 in West Florida, raising $1,884, according to Chapter 20-3 Cmdr. Joe Garner.

The CVMA, a non-profit international association founded in 1999, has over 18,000 members and more than 186 chapters across all 50 states along with Puerto Rico, Guam, Korea and Germany.

The association started after veterans began to lose their benefits, and wanted to do something about it. The CVMA raises funds throughout the year to benefit several military and veteran-related charities.

According to Garner, of the Pensacola chapter, the group builds ramps for disabled veterans and donates a couple thousand dollars to Horses for Heroes, an equine therapy group for which they have a ride for in October.

The group also donates to Volunteers of America, Vets to the Clinic program, Veterans Memorial Park Foundation in Pensacola and Fisher House.

“We are a charity, but we are also guys that ride bikes,” Garner said, adding, “We support all those veterans' charities and do other various things. We help our own members sometimes. We have three families in our membership that are going through some medical issues with their kids and with themselves, so we spread it around."

According to Shawn “Jumper” Reiss, sergeant-at-arms for Crestview’s chapter, 20-11, the organization uses a military ranking structure for its board of directors. The board comprises a commander, who is compared to a president; an executive officer/vice president; a sergeant-at-arms, who helps maintain the organization, safety and welfare of members; as well as a treasurer and public relations officials.

Three primary patches symbolize the types of membership. Full members are combat veterans, auxiliary members are spouses of veterans and supporters are veterans of the military who didn’t receive combat experience.

“[The supporters] get a seat at the table just like everybody else,” Reiss said.” They get a vote just like everybody else.”

There are additional patches for children and girlfriends or boyfriends of members.

With all their activities, there's one thing in common, Garner said. 

“100 percent of our proceeds go to the veterans," he said. 

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