What are your plans for the 5th and 6th of July? I know where I’ll be, because I cannot think of a more patriotic, fun, and meaningful way of celebrating our country and the veterans who have defended it than going to Vetstock 2013. Come join me!
Although Vietnam combat veteran Tom Ryan only started Vetstock last year, it has already grown into a charity event of great proportions. The website describes it as a “round-the-clock patriotic party and fundraiser,” and after speaking with Ryan, it becomes clear that the depiction rings true.
Vetstock 2013 is a two-day, non-stop event at the Malibu Dude Ranch in Milford. It includes a sanctioned Malibu rodeo with real cowboys, numerous live concerts, many military exhibitions, vendors of all types, and a Vietnam-era Bell UH-1 “Huey” helicopter that will be accessible to the public for inspection. There will also be cowboy shooting demonstrations, a rifle raffle, food, DJs, and a motorcycle rally encompassing three different motorcycle groups (Pike County chapters of the Warriors’ Watch, the Combat Veterans’ Motorcycle Association, and the Pike County American Legion Post 139), riding in honor of their fallen brothers and escorting Corporal David Noblit to the festivities conducted in his honor.
Ryan told me a bit about Cpl. Noblit, a brave young Marine who lost both of his legs and sustained severe damage to his left arm in an IED blast in Afghanistan. He has a wife and young son, and dreams of living in a home that offers him complete accessibility, and which enables him to be fully independent while spending quality time with his family.
Thanks to the nationally approved charity Homes for Our Troops, Cpl. Noblit will actualize his dream on July 20, 2013, as ground is broken in Elysburg for his new, entirely modified home, courtesy of the HfOT organization.
This year’s Vetstock will donate 100 percent of their proceeds to Homes for Our Troops, to go directly towards building Cpl. Noblit’s new dwelling. According to its website, www.hfotusa.org, HfOT is “a national non-profit, non-partisan 501 (c) (3) organization founded in 2004 that assists severely injured veterans and their immediate families by raising donations of money, building materials, and professional labor and by coordinating the process of building a home that provides maximum freedom of movement and the ability to live more independently.” When asked why he picked this particular charity to support this year, Ryan answered, “We have a lot of little groups around that need our help. We’re looking for the ‘little guys.’ What’s so great about Homes for Our Troops is that it’s very direct, and very personal. Even the sergeant himself is coming, you get to shake his hand.” Ryan discovered the organization while riding his motorcycle in Honesdale with other members of the Combat Veterans’ Motorcycle Association (CVMA). They got to meet an injured veteran named Sergeant Earl Granville, who was the 2012 recipient of a specially-built home from HfOT.
While Homes for Our Troops hand-picked Cpl. Noblit, Ryan (along with Niki Jones Agency, PR) was responsible for planning and executing everything else for Vetstock 2013, from picking a theme to booking each vendor and band. Asked how he arrived at the current concept, he answered, “We wanted to do something that’s never been done. Okay, we have a dude ranch, we have country-western, and we’re all hillbillies, what could be better?” He also added that he’s received “fantastic cooperation from the Milford police and fire departments,” which has made coordinating such a large event much easier.
As stated on the website: Events will be held at both the Malibu Dude Ranch and the American Legion Post 139. For a complete list of events, to purchase tickets, or for more information on Vetstock, please visit the official Vetstock website at www.vetstockusa.com, email “info [at] vetstockusa.com”, call 570-828-8675, or “Like” the official Vetstock Facebook page at facebook.com/vetstockusa.
Upon our request for a photo of himself for this article, Ryan very abruptly—yet politely—responded, “No. I won’t do that. It’s not about me.” Spoken like a true veteran.