“We pick up where the government cuts off”

When 9/11 happened, Chris Charlebois was a school teacher working with kids who were in the court system. Two of his students were deployed, and they died in combat.

Chris and his oldest daughter went to their funeral. “I come to realize that it wasn’t fair,” Chris said, “for me to ask these young men and women to do something that I wasn’t willing to do myself.”

The next day, Chris joined the Military and in 2010 Chris was deployed to Afghanistan. Chris worked in the Army as a logistics, in charge of the movement of water and fuel

Chris found himself working up in the mountains in a small village. They saw improvised explosive devices (IEDs) planted by the Taliban. The engineers removed the IEDs and they went to talk to the village elders, to see what they needed. “It was determined that they need a well and need electricity,” Chris explained. “So, the engineers set them up with generators and the supplies that they needed.”

When Chris got home from Afghanistan, he joined the Vermont National Guard.

The Department of Veterans Affairs hasn’t been meeting the needs for our veterans. They come home with a wide range of physical and mental wounds and need help with medical bills. Chris noticed these problems and wanted to make a difference.

The Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association is a non-profit organization that services veterans in need. They help veterans with heating costs, building ramps, getting them to VA appointments, and help pay any bills that veterans cannot. “One guy, we actually helped him get a service dog,” Chris said.

Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association also organizes events to fundraise money to help veterans in need. One of Chris’s favorite events is the “Poker Run”, thrown at Five Salt Pub, at all five locations in New Hampshire.

The family-oriented restaurant never wanted the image that some motorcycle organizations could give.

“They were impressed how we presented ourselves more as a business than a club,” Chris said. “Made me feel pretty good that we were the first motorcycle organization that they allowed to do an event.

My father, Mike Carpenter, is the Sergeant at Arms for Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association. In 2004 he was hit with an IED in Baghdad, Iraq. He came out unwounded but wants to help the ones that didn’t.

Mike’s favorite event is the Rolling Thunder Ride and the CVMA ride on Memorial Day weekend in Washington, D.C. Last year, there were around 500,000 bikers for the Rolling Thunder and CVMA rides. He told me a story that one time when he was there for the Rolling Thunder ride, he had to yell at tourists to get out of reflecting pool on the mall.

My father loves his Harley Davidson. He bought a new bike last year and is planning on buying the new model this year. He also likes having the opportunity to help out his fellow Veterans:

“We pick up the tab where the government cuts off.”