SWANTON — Local veterans have combined a love of riding motorcycles with a desire to help other veterans.

Since 2008, veterans in Franklin, Chittenden and Grand Isle have been members of Chapter 26-2 of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association (CMVA), a national organization representing all branches of the armed services. Members must have had combat duty, but former soldiers who did not see combat are able to join as support members.

Swanton’s Bob Wheeler has been a member of Chapter 26-2 since the beginning. Locally CMVA concentrates on “veterans helping veterans, with money, or physical help like building wheelchair ramps, doing lawn work, whatever is needed when vets run up against hard times,” Wheeler said.

The Veteran’s Place in Northfield Vermont is the main recipient of Chapter 26-2 giving. “The Veteran’s Place provides transitional housing for homeless veterans. It is a hand up not a hand out. This Christmas our chapter put on a dinner there. Veteran’s Place is starting up a new workshop, and our group donated power tools,” Wheeler said.

In addition to assisting with the needs at Veteran’s Place, Chapter 26-2 recently completed the building of its fourth wheelchair ramp for a local Swanton woman. “We usually focus on veterans’ needs, but the ramp we built for her was part of our community service,” said Wheeler. “Our group decided it was a very worthy cause to help this lady. She recently had her leg amputated and wouldn’t have been able to return home from the hospital until she had a wheelchair ramp. Due to cold and snowy weather, we had to assemble the ramp in my garage, build it in three pieces, and then move it to her home in sections.”

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