VetsRoll is rolling again after three-year hiatus

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Bob Franseen was one of 93 veterans and 100 volunteers who traveled by bus to Washington DC courtesy of VetsRoll. Volunteer assistant Gail Haab has made the trip nearly every year.

Five Badger Coach buses left the Eclipse Center in Beloit on Oct. 16, carrying 93 senior veterans, ages 83 to 100, and 100 assistants that included a medical team on each bus. They were headed for the trip of a lifetime, a four-day journey to Washington DC, courtesy of VetsRoll.

Because of the pandemic, VetsRoll had to abandon plans for excursions between 2019 and spring 2022.  The Oct. 16 fall trip was an add-on this year, restricted to the most senior veterans, with service dating back to World War II.



The first leg of the trip took them to Dayton, Ohio, where they toured the National USAF Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and spent the night.

Next morning, it was on to Washington DC to visit the Lincoln Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Korean War Veterans Memorial and the World War II Memorial.

During the long ride, the veterans played cards and games, and reminisced about their war experiences.

Uncle Sam, Aaron Wilson of WIFR-TV, made a special delivery to veteran Bob Pomahac during Mail Call aboard the VetsRoll bus. Wilson was one of several volunteer assistants delivering cards and letters to veterans. Students from area schools, friends and families, wrote letters and cards to the veterans thanking them for their service to our country.

Mail Call was one of the highlights of the trip. Volunteers delivered heart-warming thank-you letters and cards from 30 schools, churches, senior centers, nursing homes, family and friends.

Gail Haab, a retired Roscoe teacher, has been a VetsRoll volunteer for five years. “Serving the veterans is near and dear to my heart.” She said Mail Call is a very emotional part of the trip.

Jo-Anne Alleman is chairman of Mail Call. “I think I have the best volunteer position, as I get to read all of the letters and cards.”

On Oct. 19, the weary but content veterans returned to Beloit where they were greeted by hundreds of friends and families in a welcome home ceremony at Central Christian Church.

VetsRoll was conceived by Mark and John Finnegan 10 years ago. They wanted to do something special to honor their father, Cy, and mother, Barbara. Cy was a veteran of WWII, Barbara was a “Rosie the Riveter.”

VetsRoll has grown every year. Fundraising events and donations throughout the year help make the goals of VetsRoll- showing respect and gratitude, and honoring those who have served - become a reality.

Finnegan said it costs approximately $400,000 for each trip. There is no charge to the veterans.

Mark and a volunteer team of assistants are already working on the next VetsRoll, May 21-24, 2023. This time, 400 veterans, “Rosies”, and volunteer assistants will be making the four-day journey.

Information about VetsRoll and applications for veterans and assistants can be found at www.vetsroll.org.

Ninety three veterans between the ages of 83 to 100, traveled to Washinton with a stop in Dayton. Ohio, Oct. 16-19. VetsRoll sponsors the event. One hundred volunteer assistants accompany the veterans. Veterans travel free of charge. VetsRoll was founded by Mark and John Finnegan in honor of their parents, Cy and Barbara Finnegan.
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