U.S. Navy veteran and Aberdeen native Robb English has found a new way to serve others through the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association and he encourages Monroe County veterans to consider doing the same.
“All of our members are full combat veterans who have been in combat,” he said. “A lot of us were looking for something when we got out of the military to have that camaraderie and friendship.
“We’re a complete nonprofit, so everything we do goes back to help the veterans in our communities. We don’t keep any of the money to ourselves.”
There are approximately 400,000 members worldwide, and Mississippi has four chapters. The North Mississippi chapter, MS #44-3, is based in DeSoto County, where English now lives.
There are already northeast Mississippi members from Pontotoc, Fulton and Mantachie in the chapter, which has 36 members.
“A lot of people don’t even know we’re out there and they don’t know what we do. We’re an association; we’re not a motorcycle club. We don’t go out to look for people, prospect people and recruit. We go to events and people come up to us, and that’s how we get our name out there,” English said, who is the chapter public relations officer and quartermaster. “We stay really positive with the clubs that are out there. If there are rides, they can support us, and we’ll show mutual support and donate to what their ride is benefiting.”
To be a full member, veterans must have documentation in service records that they were in a combat zone, either have a combat infantry badge or an armed forces expeditionary ribbon.
Any veterans in good standings can be support members, but only 10 percent of the number of members across the state are allowed. Wives of any member can become auxiliary members.
Motorcycles and valid motorcycle driver’s licenses are required to be members. There’s a patch fee and an initial first-year membership fee. The association typically hosts rides in the spring and fall and participates in other chapters’ rides and scavenger hunts.
More information is available by searching North MS CVMA 44-3 – Public on Facebook and visiting www.cvma44-3.org/.
Still serving others
English was a flight deck director while in the Navy. He served from 1995 until 2006, and his deployments included the Persian Gulf and Tanzania, South Africa following the multiple bombings of U.S. Embassies in East Africa on Aug. 7 1998.
“I did almost 11 years and out of the 11 years, I spent nine years, three months and a week and two days out to sea. Most of that was in the gulf,” he said.
In addition to continuing a brotherhood with other veterans, he has found a way to continually serve others through the Combat Vets Motorcycle Association. Working with other organizations and giving people help they didn’t realize is available is what makes him most proud to be a member.
“If I help one person out of five, I know I’ve helped somebody. At least I put the word out to the other four. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink it,” English said.
He shared a story of the group visiting a veteran’s grave who lost his life to suicide, and his mother was also there visiting.
“She is a Gold Star Mom. We’ve become pretty good friends, and she’s reached out to me and I’ve connected with other moms in the past few months that their sons are going through things, and they’re suicidal. I end up getting a chapter there wherever they’re at. I’ve had guys in Pennsylvania, Oregon and New York who were suicidal, and their moms contacted me through the Gold Star Organization. I ended up getting our guys in those other chapters to basically pull those guys off the ledge,” English said. “It’s a big networking thing for us, and that’s part of it.”
He added there used to be a patch sold as a fundraiser with the number 22 on it to represent the national statistic of veteran suicides per day.
“We sold out of them and I was sitting around one night, and the numbers were fluctuating on the number of veteran suicides. It wasn’t 22 anymore and it dropped down to 17. I was telling my little girl, that’s still a lot of people and said one is too many, and she said, ‘That’s a good idea.’ She designed a patch that said ‘One is too many’ with a stop sign. We sell that patch now as a fundraiser,” English said.
Volunteer work through the association has included helping with WarHorses for Heroes, an Olive Branch equestrian center aiming to help veterans with post-traumatic stress syndrome. Members also donate to the Oxford Veterans Home and participate in Wreaths Across America.
“We get thanked all the time but we’re not about being thanked. We’re out there doing what we’re supposed to do. If it was us on the other side living on the streets, we would love for someone to come by and give us food and not be judged. That’s the biggest things for me – what we do for our veterans, there is no judgment. We do what we do because we’re supposed to do it,” English said.