Veterans Eagle Head Memorial Cane Project
UPDATE: We have now delivered over 300 canes to our wounded Veterans. Hopefully we won't get any more requests...
Soldiers Angels had to stop paying postage for our cane shipments due to reduced income to their group.
The Mission of the Project:
The Veteran's Memorial Presentation Cane project is our way of thanking the Servicemen & Women from Wisconsin who were injured or killed in the Mid-East Wars since 9/11. We offer them a free cane with a carved Bald Eagle handle as a memorial for the sacrifices they made for our country. The shaft of the cane could be of a variety of designs or materials, depending on who puts it together. The Eagle head handles, because they are made by a number of different carvers, can vary quite a bit in style & design from one cane to another as can the shafts. The decorations on the shafts are whatever the Vet wants. You can see below some of the various decorations we have added.
The History of the Project:
This important project started for me in February, 2006, when I received an email from Jack Nitz of the Eastern Oklahoma Wood Carvers Assoc. Jack was looking for support for a cane project which was started by his club. He wanted a group from each state to sign on to handle any requests for canes that he received from that state. I contacted him and set myself up to handle the state of Wisconsin and also offered to help him out with other states that had not yet found any supporting groups.
Supplying the increasing number of Wisconsin Veterans with canes appeared to me to be a full time job, so I approached my friends at UGSFW and at the Wildlife Carving Club for support. Both groups unanimously said "YES"!
We soon had 20+ heads carved and material donated for quite a few shafts as well. The woodworking shop, led by "D J" Dolan, at the Kenosha Senior's Center jumped in and started turning shafts from the wood we had and I started putting the parts together. As of August 1, 2006, we had 21 canes ready to carve the recipients name on (if desired) or any other decoration they would like.
Our success at getting the support of the woodcarvers and workers made us feel quite good about what we had accomplished... 21 canes ready to go! BUT, no one to give them to! Attempts to get the names and addresses of the injured Vets was impossible! I approached the local Veteran's groups, but most of the returning Vet's were not yet getting involved with these groups. The government would not release any information and the articles in the papers seldom gave more than the city closest to where the Vet lived. Senator Russ Feingold helped tremendously when he contacted the local Veteran's Hospital and the Dept. of Veterans Affairs. The Racine Area Veteran's Council was also very helpful in getting the word out about what was offered and my neighbor, who works at the Vet's Hospital, helped to spread the word in that area.
Where we are now...
Things are starting to look up. I have shipped about 60 canes to date as well as having delivered a walking stick to Col. Kenneth Lee at the Milwaukee Veteran's Hospital and canes to six residents at the Union Grove Soldiers Home, but there is a whole lot of state to cover yet! Support continues to grow... a group called "Soldiers Angels" has offered to pay the postage on any canes we have to ship and there has been help from some private citizens who hear of the project, What we want most is to get in touch with the vet's that are eligible to receive our canes so we can put smiles on their faces!