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Paul Halverson takes a break in Dover Paul Halverson takes a break in Dover

The 4,000-Mile March

He came wheeling up the grassy curb in Dover, Idaho, red-faced, sweaty and looking a decade younger than his actual age on that May afternoon. His top-of-the-line mountain bike hauled a 55-pound pack behind it: clothes, food and papers to hand out. Sixty-two-year old Disabled American Veteran Paul Halverson was on a mission, an outreach for new veterans only just arriving home for some, a long-awaited moment for others, to provide exposure and awareness for America’s disabled veterans and returning military personnel.

With the warming summer sun shining through the trees above, Halverson sat in the middle of a local veteran’s yard in Dover grinning about his daughter, Shara Halverson. He doused his sweaty face with water and took a deep breath.

“My daughter is an avid marathon runner,” Halverson said. “She ran me out of town in Everett, Washington on May 15. She ran the first ten miles with me.”

Halverson is riding across the country, a 4,000 mile, four month long journey that will take him from Everett on through Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, a 500-mile jog up into Canada and back down into New York, New Hampshire and Vermont, leaving the final leg of the journey through Maine with the finish line in Bangor. He began this arduous undertaking with the single thought: what can I do to help?

“Some people get frustrated, throw their hands up in their air and say screw it,” Halverson said eating a well-earned supper at the local Pizza Hut while passing through Sandpoint on his journey. “Don’t ever give up.”

Halverson hopes through his efforts he can gain enough exposure that local Disabled American Veterans chapters will be able to raise enough funds from their local sources to help America’s veterans, most of whom are returning home with injuries. As it stands now, the DAV processes about 30 percent of all veterans’ claims, and the 12 other veterans service organizations together handle all other claims.

“I just reached the thousand mile mark near the Montana-North Dakota border,” Halverson said in a recent phone call to our local chapter.

Halverson spent two tours in Vietnam in the 9th and 25th Infantry Divisions. During that time, he was exposed to Agent Orange and also took a hit from a grenade that left shrapnel in his leg and cost him his hearing and gave him a nasty case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Through the help of his own DAV chapter, in Duluth, Minnesota, Halverson received the support he needed. He hopes through this ride across the states, other veterans will come to understand the importance of the bond with their local DAV chapter.

Halverson is one of a growing number of Vietnam era vets who are increasingly making bonds with current generation veterans returning home. With the number of unprocessed Veteran’s Administration claims quickly approaching the one million mark, this type of outreach is necessary for generational bond building. A veteran typically goes through a severe financial hardship while waiting for their VA claim to be resolved, with the average waiting time at four months for the first answer and 18 months for the claim to be completed on appeal.

In other points of interest: The DAV Mobile Service Officer Van will be at the Bonners Ferry Idaho Commerce and Labor Center, 5641 Main Street, on July 8 from 10 am to 5 pm, and the Coeur d’Alene Idaho Commerce and Labor Center, 1221 W. Ironwood Dr., on July 9 from 10 am to 5 pm.

The local Vietnam Veterans American Chapter #890 will hold its annual yard sale August 1 from 6 am to 6 pm, and August 2 from 7 am to 1 pm at the VFW Hall located at 1325 Pine Street in Sandpoint. The yard sale is a benefit to assist veterans and/or their families who are less fortunate or in need. The VVA asks citizens who have items to donate to please call Michael at 208-263-8724 or Will at 208-265-9164 so the VVA can arrange to have your items picked up. The VVA is a 501(c) organization, so all donations are tax deductible.

All local veterans’ organizations would like to thank the following organizations and civilians for their tremendous support for the Second Annual Stand Down to be held at the Bonner County Fairgrounds July 11: Newport, WA. Safeway, CDA. Super 1 Food Stores, Second Ave Food Harvest in Spokane, Veterans Outreach Specialist, Coeur d’Alene, “Brandia Young” Food Banks in Newport, WA., Oldtown, ID., Priest River, ID, all civilian volunteers, ACE septic, Pamela Faye Houston, who sang the National Anthem, the Idaho National Guard, Litehouse in Sandpoint, Sandpoint Boy Scouts, message therapist Krystle Shapiro, Carleen Roberson and all ladies providing hair cuts, and Kris Fankell.

Finally, don't forget to enter to win tickets to Boz Scaggs and help benefit the DAV! Go here for information, here if you want to donate online. No, you don't have to donate to enter (email editorial(at)riverjournal.com for a non-donation entry) but consider helping out our disabled vets!

Photo by Kriss Perras Running Waters

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Author info

Kriss Perras Running Waters Kriss Perras Running Waters is an American female screenwriter, film director and publisher. She is a former Ocean Systems Technician Maintainer for the US Navy, and was the publisher of both PCH Press and the Malibu Arts Journal.

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