One Bike at a Time. One Hero at a Time.
And it's Time...

To Put TWO Back On The Road at Once!
We had a record number of applications this year, only appropriate
for a record number of Harleys to be gifted this year: EIGHT.
Stunning.

Which not only tells us we need to continue helping injured Veterans heal with alternative therapies, but that Hogs For Heroes needs to do things a little differently to keep up with the crazy pace that you, our amazing Supporters, have set for us. So...

Let's introduce to you to our first TWO Veteran Recipients of 2022!
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Meet #23:
Marine Veteran Matthew Wagner
of Belleville, Wisconsin
Helping This Veteran Make Himself a Priority

Matt Wagner came from a family rich in military service; and, as a high school senior in Waupun, WI, he, too, wanted the personal challenge the Marine Corps offered and the chance to prove his doubters wrong. He saw military service as a building block for both a college education and future career; and in 1999, after graduating and spending his senior summer riding his first motorcycle, Matt left for boot camp. He left confident and optimistic and returned home four years later a completely different and desolate man. A man who struggled for ten long years before realizing the deeply invasive toll war had taken on his person, his character and his life. And then, he did something about it.

After settling in at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, Matt, a Landing Support Specialist, brought his motorcycle to base for the release and joy riding provided him. Two years in he was attached to the 26th MEU and had seen parts of the world he’d never imagined. Life was good: he’d just met his future wife and was ready to hit the Mediterranean Sea for another tour across the Atlantic. On a field march in August 2001, Matt stepped in a hole and strained his knee; and, fearing an injury would prevent his upcoming deployment, he kept it quiet. After watching the eviscerating horror of 9/11 with his platoon that fateful day, Matt knew his destiny would be forever changed. His unit was special-operations capable and already prepped to deploy; so, rather than head to the Mediterranean as planned, he found himself bound for the Arabian Sea. In late 2001, in the middle of the night, Matt stepped on the shores of Pakistan to prepare for war.  

His Platoon was assigned to an airfield and began preparing it to accept aircraft loaded with supplies and equipment. For almost three months, he unloaded and reloaded aircraft after aircraft, sometimes working 24 hours a day, with an undiagnosed knee injury. Adding to his physical pain were the horrific living conditions they endured. He went 67 days without a shower, eating nothing but MRE’s, and stayed in makeshift hangers under constant threat and exposure to the elements. Every day his fear of not returning home grew; and every day that fear and danger fed his developing PTSD. 

When his deployment ended and he was back at Camp Lejeune, Matt knew he was a changed man with a different life perspective, but couldn’t see just how intrinsically changed he was. He pushed aside all he could and put on the stiff upper lip the culture demanded. He became the Hazmat Safety Manager to finish out his last year and eliminate the potential for redeployment. But in January, 2003, with nine months left on his contract and against unprecedented odds, Matt’s entire Battalion was called to deploy to Kuwait for the Iraq invasion, along with a possible extended discharge date.  

Once there, and with no need for a Safety Manager, Matt’s position was changed to Convoy Driver in a Seven Ton transport vehicle. He drove six months straight, every single day, on treacherous routes from Kuwait to Iraq and back again: a route littered with threats and tragic aftermath. It fed an anxiety he needed to hide and built a warehouse for memories to torture him long after his service had ended. The scenes he saw are forever etched in his mind. The smells of war and its destruction are ingrained in his senses. The constant tension would later impact his physical health and the demands on his strained knee became a meniscus tear that later required two surgeries. The frequent loud noises of explosions conditioned his body to startle and their triggering incidents still drive the hypervigilance he maintains today. The experiences of both deployments combined to affect Matt for the rest of his life… and turn him into the man he would become, both good and bad.  

In September of 2003, Matt’s deployment ended with a one day notice: he packed his things, flew home to a parade reception, and was given three weeks to check out and develop a plan for civilian life. There was no guidance, no resources and no directions for what to do and where to go. 
At just 22 years old life as he knew it had simply ended; and, there was no one to talk to about what he just went through. He left base with a few other buddies who processed their life events with solitude, bewilderment and alcohol–and enough of it to the point of depleting his checking account.  Alone, confused and obstinate, Matt spiraled in a sea of bad decisions; and the one thing that gave him peace of mind…his ability to get on his bike and be free.  

Matt eventually returned to Waupun later that year for the support of his family and the chance to rebuild. Denying his pain and tamping down his memories, he moved toward a future that included several jobs and academic pursuits; and in 2006, he married Joi, the woman he loved from first sight. His next best decision was joining the Police Academy where he immediately fell in love with its structure and impactful work. But just as soon as he found hints of a better life, the nightmares and panic attacks would pull him under again in waves of angst and irritability. It was a vicious cycle that lasted ten years before his wife issued the ultimatum of therapy or divorce. In 2013 Matt took his Marine attitude into his first weekly session and found himself over the next six months reeling with the benefits of release as he learned to talk and cry. He was vulnerable and open, scared and relieved; and every chance he had, he rode to clear his mind and heal his aching heart. And every chance he and his wife could find, they rode to strengthen their relationship and find happiness together. 

Matt has worked hard over the past several years to rebuild, invest in himself and develop coping skills to manage his struggles; and in doing so he found joy and purpose in community service and leadership. He has been a Police Officer for the past sixteen years, working first with Oregon and now, as a Lieutenant, with the Cottage Grove Police Department. Along the way he received Associate, Bachelors and Masters degrees to strengthen the leader he was destined to become. He is a kind, genuine and open man who continues counseling and has learned to tell his story to inspire others. As an advocate for mental health awareness, Matt helped develop an Officer Wellness program to support and manage the demands of their stress-filled profession. Today he bravely steps forward to publicly share his personal story to help others know there are options, resources and support.  

Along the way Matt and Joi carved out a life together and welcomed two children, a daughter and a son. His opportunities to ride became less as family demands increased; and, as bills began to accumulate and savings became more necessary, Matt sold his bike in 2014 to pay off bills. They live a modest life; and prioritizing his family’s needs and stability above all, he believes his dream of buying another bike is selfish. He’s not, however, stopped longing to ride and dreaming of a someday chance. Hogs For Heroes felt that Matt, a man who sacrificed much for our Country and uses both his character and struggles to further serve others, should have wind therapy back in his life for his own personal peace and ongoing healing.

We surprised Matt with our news and, over the course of a three hour dinner learning more about him, we knew our Board made the right choice as this humble man expressed both his bewilderment and gratitude through tears. The shock lessened a little bit more when he found the bike of his dreams sitting on the dealership floor at Open Road Harley-Davidson in Fond du Lac, WI...and then took it for a spin sealing the deal. This pre-loved 2018 Ultra Limited not only met every wish he had, its two-tone color scheme sported his lifelong favorite color–-green, and it immediately captured his heart.  

Unique to this bike, it has been paid for by the fundraising efforts of the Firefighters Local 311, a Dane County Union that represents over 500 Firefighters and Paramedics, nearly a third of whom are Veterans or active service members. We think it’s a beautiful match for this dedicated servant that his bike come from those who couldn’t more fully understand the pressures, and pride, found in supporting the emergent needs of their community.   

We're bringing that bike closer to home and we'll be hanging at Harley-Davidson of Madison on Saturday, May 7, 2022 from 11 am - 1 pm, where those awesome folks jumped at the chance to host our double gifting (and graciously welcome in another dealership's bike!)! Come learn more about our unique mission, meet some of our prior recipients and welcome our two newest recipients back to The Road. Our Presentation of Keys Ceremony will begin promptly at 12:00 pm-- and trust us, you don’t want to miss this emotional and special moment. 
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Meet Our Next Recipient #24:
Marine Veteran Gerald Sieren
of Beloit, Wisconsin
A Gift to Heal a Veteran Who Helps Other Veterans

This is a story of perseverance: a trait every single Marine knows
and values deeply...despite the obstacles placed in one's way.

Marine Veteran Jerry Sieren was raised in Janesville, Wisconsin. His family life was one of hardship and heartache: a broken home with several step-fathers and years of financial struggles. He was lucky enough to be exposed to horses and, after learning to ride at age 5, he spent much of his childhood riding and caring for them in exchange for labor and a life-long love. Jerry also grew up longing for attention from a father who made little time for him. And, in his youthful, misguided thinking…Jerry made every effort to capture that attention in all the wrong ways. By the age of 13, he had an extensive rap sheet of problematic behaviors and activity. Both the police and social work departments knew him well; and when his mother didn’t know what to do any longer, they placed him in a foster home for a year. Later, a freshman in high school, he sat in juvenile detention for 60 days, waiting for his father who never came. The rejection hurt then, as much as it still does today, but it was that moment of recognition when Jerry decided he wanted a different life. He changed his course direction almost overnight and he learned to ride dirt bikes as a way to release his energy. School was hard but he made his grades, kept himself out of trouble and graduated. He bought his first motorcycle during this time and cultivated what would become a lifelong passion and healing freedom. Unsure of his future and considering the military, Jerry took a bet with a friend that he couldn’t get into the Marine Corps. He learned the hard way that stupid actions of yesterday would be detrimental to his Marine dreams, and he spent the next two years rebuilding his name and finally persuading the Marine Corps to accept his candidacy. 

In January, 1987, at the age of 20, Jerry left for boot camp in San Diego. He had never been so excited and committed to anything before. He vowed himself to excellence and set his sights on a lifetime of service. He loved everything about the Corps right from the start: the structure, the discipline, the lifestyle: it invigorated him and gave him the sense of family he had long desired. Near the end of boot camp, Jerry developed bilateral stress fractures to his shin bones. He had pushed hard to shine through those three months and, fearing failure, he pushed even harder through the pain to complete his training. He headed off to Camp Lejeune to specialize in Combat Engineering and in the midst of training his stress fractures flared and began affecting his knees. Again, he successfully pushed through the pain and departed for Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station in Hawaii. A few months in, Jerry finally sought medical attention and was placed on light duty at base headquarters. It wasn’t the role he’d hoped to have, but as their new Chief Mail Clerk, Jerry vowed to do the best he could while his legs and knees healed. And he did just that: earning a Meritorious Mast for his excellence in personal performance and operations after a department inspection. He surprisingly found his work enjoyable and, loving the camaraderie, looked forward to supporting base operations. In mid-1988 a new Second Lieutenant arrived with an intent to fix all he thought was wrong with his Marines and his new base. For most of the next year, Jerry would be called into his Executive Officer’s private office and verbally abused, degraded and physically assaulted.   

Jerry became the direct target for all that was wrong with this man’s life and character, both military and personal. A larger man, Jerry was embarrassed by the actions of his smaller-sized XO and didn’t talk about the abuse with colleagues. It was 1989 and the military was a different culture: efforts to seek intervention only backfired and resulted in further retaliatory aggression. Fearful, intimidated and unsupported, Jerry took the abuse from his chain of command until the day his XO purposefully took a baton to his hand and fractured two bones. In the investigative aftermath, Jerry was the one deemed expendable and was honorably discharged with a physical disability after 2 years of service.  Without control or options, his military dreams came to a crashing halt and it took him 25 years to realize he was not the military failure his untimely discharge made him believe.      

His physical injuries would go on to impact his legs and knees for the rest of his life, as would the invisible wounds inflicted. His mind reeling with what just happened, he bought another motorcycle to help find peace and support. The experience tore Jerry down and left him devastated and angry. It stripped him further of his self worth, esteem and confidence and set him on a rollercoaster life-path filled with severe depression and regrettable choices as he worked to redefine himself again. He moved from job to job and place to place desperate to fit in and find approval. He would find love… then struggled through three different divorces that gave him four amazing children, but left him with child support bills he is still docked for today. Along the way he earned three degrees to help him find that elusive professional path he desired. Jerry built good times, too, and eventually amassed a successful business with material gains, only to lose it all in the crash of 2008. He moved to his mother’s home a broken man and, once again, worked to rebuild an independent life.  

Through this all he had his horses: both iron and four-legged that buoyed him and gave him deep, therapeutic comfort. He would ride his motorcycles to clear his mind and bond with friends, and spend hours with his rescue horses to soothe his soul and share his emotions. Despite this support, his despair and desolation further ebbed and flowed and left him contemplating suicide more times than he cares to recall. Surprised himself, Jerry has managed to successfully push through his pain-- his determination strengthened by his love of life and family. But the cycle of more jobs, more places and more failure continued; and he found himself hungry and homeless more times than he can remember. He always made sure his horses were cared for first, often trading labor for boarding. And it was through a boarding experience that he had the chance to work with another struggling Veteran and found an inner strength and blossoming passion for helping others.  

In 2015, Jerry landed a job he wholeheartedly believes to be his ultimate life-calling: he became a Veterans Outreach and Recovery Program (VORP) Coordinator. In this position he would search for and assist struggling Veterans on the streets in the La Crosse region and work to connect them with resources and support. Drawing from his own life experiences and ability to relate, he put his heart into helping save and redirect others. He was genuine and determined, and he easily connected with others by sharing his own truths. He personally invested himself in their lives and inspired many to seek the help and support. And it was the first time in the 25 years since he was discharged that Jerry truly realized that he did, in fact, have military success and finally found pride in his service.  

His new work was tough; and although personally fulfilling, its many burdens weighed on his still depressed and struggling self. In 2016, Jerry put a gun to his head and was stopped only by his service dog’s efforts. Because he knew the resources he easily referred to others, Jerry finally sought help for himself and eventually received a disability rating for PTSD. With resources and personal support, he continued his Veterans outreach work for six years until just recently taking a position within Rock County as an Assistant County Veterans Service Officer advocating for Veterans rights and claims.  

Serving our Country and struggling Veterans in this very different and important way was the call to service Jerry never imagined all those years ago. And while it fills his heart with purpose and keeps his mind focused on helping others, learning to move through ongoing feelings of betrayal and failure continues to take every ounce of concerted effort. Our Advisory Board couldn’t help but be impressed with the courage and tenacity in which Jerry has fought his way through his own personal hardships, and those of his fellow Veterans.  And it was time someone fought for Jerry.

Jerry last had a motorcycle in 2019 when he sold it to finally buy a home for his new family and used a portion of its sale to purchase a boat for family time. While the intention was good…the boating experience was disastrous and the loss of riding affected Jerry more than he imagined. While he and his wife Holly work hard to make ends meet, there is no room in their tight budget to buy a bike to fill his heart again. Hogs For Heroes felt that regaining the peaceful healing that riding has provided Jerry for over 40 years would help him keep fighting for himself.  

We met Jerry in a covert operation set up by his wife and watched his face quickly turn from wary, to surprise, to joy and relief as he processed our news. He is selective about who he shares his life story with and does so only in situations where he knows its impact will help another. There is nothing easy about sharing his truths, but he does so knowing that he could be the one to enhance another’s sense of worth, support another’s pain-filled struggles or, better yet, save another’s life.   

We took Jerry shopping the very next day at Harley-Davidson of Madison in Madison, WI. He’d spent his entire night before sleeplessly dreaming about the perfect bike, and he found it on his local dealership's floor: a beautiful 2018 H-D Ultra Limited in two-tone gray with killer pipes and elevated bars to perfectly fit his shoulders. Our friends at Madison really showed us the love by taking that price down below our budget to help us leave a little fuel in our tank for the next Bike and Veteran pairing. And then, when we asked if we could hold our double ceremony at their dealership, they opened their arms even wider for us.

We are rolling into 2022’s record-breaking gifting season with a “2 Up” biker approach and presenting keys to our 23rd and 24th Veteran Recipients at the same time! Join us on Saturday, May 7, 2022, from 11 am - 1:00 pm at Harley-Davidson of Madison as we honor the gratitude we have for all Veterans by supporting the healing needs for two injured Marines at once. Our Presentation of Keys Ceremony will start promptly at 12:00. Come on out and help us welcome two more injured Wisconsin Veteran riders back to the healing road! 
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YES.
COMING SOON TO A WATERING HOLE NEAR YOU...

It's back! This Golden Ale is a limited release craft beer created by Capital Brewery in Middleton, WI and has quickly become a fan favorite. Not only perfect for summer, a portion of the beer's proceeds will be donated to Hogs For Heroes!

It sold out last year in record time, so START ASKING your favorite places and distributors to bring it in on tap!

#drinkbeerforacause
FUN and SUPPORT!
MARK YOUR CALENDARS NOW
COUNTY PUB CHARITY RIDE FOR VETERANS
5/14/22:

In Juneau, WI, the County Pub's patrons fell hard for our mission just as soon as they heard about us. Now they're organizing their first Poker Run to benefit us with great bars joining in on the fun! Raffles, music and food included---2 wheels or 4--just go on out and support their big hearts! Catch the FB Event details here.
RINO RUN 6/4/22:
In memory of avid rider Steve "Rino" Rinabarger (1956-2020), this second annual Poker Run has made us their beneficiary! Again!

Lunch and registration at 11:00 at The Schelter Bar in Leland. Meander your own roads to stops in Sauk, Columbia and Dane Counties to end up at The Red Mouse in Pine Bluff for more fun and raffles! Catch the FB event details here!
SLOPPY JOES D-DAY RIDE 6/5/22:
In honor of the Fallen, their ride supports our Injured WI Veteran needs to regain wind therapy in their lives.

Registration at 9-1030 at Sloppy Joes in Hubertus, WI for their 19th Annual Ride, with KSU at 11. Meander Lake Country and a few cool stops, ending at Smoke on the Water on Okauchee Lake, their newest restaurant. More details to come, but plan to enjoy your Sunday Funday with us all the while supporting us! Catch the FB Event details here.
THE IUOE LOCAL139 WAUSHARA COUNTY POKER RUN
6/25/22

The 5th Annual Operating Engineers Poker Run benefitting Hogs For Heroes will start and end at the impressive IUOE Training Center in Coloma, WI.

TRUST US ON THIS-- it is one well-done ride that meanders beautiful central Wisconsin roads. And they share ALL their proceeds with us! Ride with us--all are welcome! Stay tuned for more.
OXFORD VFW POST 6003
HOGS FOR HEROES RIDE
7/16/22

The Post's Veterans and friends are working to make this one heck of a ride around Wisco's beautiful rural roads, and help return one more Veteran back to the road. In and out of Post 6003 in Oxford, WI, returning for LIVE MUSIC by the fabulous Retro Specz from 5-9 on their outdoor stage. We're tellin' you...this is one awesome Post and set-up to hang with! We'll share more details as they roll out.
BEE HIVE BARN & GRILL RAFFLE RUN FOR HOGS FOR HEROES: 7/23/22

The Bee Hive Barn & Grill in Neenah welcomes all in for another fun ride, with Recipient #9 organizing it just for us!

We'll be in and out of The Bee Hive, with registration at 10 and a pace and route you get to select. Return by 5:30 for raffles and LIVE MUSIC when Minus One starts rockin' the stage at 6:30. Click here to catch the FB event details!
SAVE THE DATE:
THE KOSH-ROCK RUN: 8/13/22

IT'S BACK!

Traverse the lake area on two wheels, four wheels or propeller...at your own pace and at the stops you choose! Even cooler-- they share their full proceeds with us!

The Anchor in Edgerton, WI puts this baby on for all to get to know the awesome spots around Lake Koshkonong! Ink this one in folks --it's a hoot! All the juicy details to spill out soon.
PSSST.....KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN!

Our next, and last, application period of 2022 will open early May. We offer this shorter, additional opportunity for those who just learned of our mission or for those who now feel ready to apply. Details and all application materials will be available on our website during that time.

Spread the word...
you never know when the right opportunity
will land in the right hands.
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Always Remember...

Freedom Isn't Free.

HOGS FOR HEROES, INC.| 608-228-0026 | info@hogsforheroeswi.org| www.hogsforheroeswi.org