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President’s Message – August 2023

Run for the Wall

Before I get too far into this month’s message, I would like to take a moment to recognize the upcoming departure from the BoD of Jenny Ward. Yes, as hard as it is to believe, Jenny, while continuing to serve on the Central Route, is leaving the BoD. Jenny’s near decade of either direct or indirect service to the BoD and to all routes as our resident CPA and then Treasurer has been an immense help. She has an accountant’s mind and eye and has set up our accounting procedures that will enable us to move into the future with confidence. If you have a moment, perhaps shoot her an email at and thank her for her exceptionally dedicated service to our mission. Jenny, I know we will see you on the Run, but please take comfort in knowing you served RFTW and our veterans with the deliberate dedication they so richly deserve!

We covered a lot of territory in our Face-to-Face in Dallas. One of the prominent things we decided is that RFTW 2024 will focus on Back to Basics. Everyone in attendance agreed that current events and external requirements have drawn our focus away from the basic tasks associated with accomplishing our Mission.  Your RCs will be emphasizing that very focus as we begin planning RFTW 2024. Please take a moment to read, or reread, our Mission statement and reflect the meaning behind the words. It is a powerful statement, and your leadership believes we need to refocus our efforts towards accomplishing what we say we are going to do. You will be hearing more from your RCs on this topic.

As difficult as change is, we have irrefutable data that tells us we need to institute some changes to the way the Mission is accomplished. Midway asked for approval to do an 11-day Run again in 2024. Don presented a compelling presentation during a special Board meeting outlining how the 11-days impacts the veterans, communities, families, and friends along the Midway route. While 2023 was an “experimental” Run, the Board felt there was sufficient compelling evidence, to include comments in AARs from Midway riders, to do it again. There will be changes to our departure ceremony for Midway; however we will not “require” anyone but Midway riders to attend, and it will not detract from the Wednesday departure ceremony.  More to follow as planning continues.

As we work toward getting Back to Basics, you will hear of additional redirection of efforts. We are not taking on any additional missions this year; if someone wants to alter the fundamental accomplishment of a Route by adding or embellishing the Run, they will first have to receive the RCs approval, who then in turn will bring it to the BoD for review and discussion. Again, we were all in agreement that there were too many “side” missions and changes without RC approval that significantly detracted from accomplishing the primary mission. So, if you wish to add to or embellish the Mission on a particular route, you’ll need to run it through the RC first, and well before the Run begins.  Last minute add-ons just before KSU will not be approved. Over the past couple of years, we have seen many of our participants bringing unfavorable attitudes with them. Whether it is an attitude of entitlement or an attitude of “the rules are good for everyone else, but they don’t apply to me in this situation,” or “I can insert a mission into my route without preplanning with my RC,” this needs to stop. There will be no new missions, no new positions, no new operations without prior RC and BoD coordination.

As we look at the demographics of RFTW, it has become glaringly apparent that we need to take a hard look at expectations. There are a couple of studies going on that may alter the face of RFTW. I ask that you keep in mind that we are not looking at the Run blindly; we are consulting with riders, RCs, other leaders as well as folks outside of our organization. Change is difficult in any organization, but if we expect our Run and our Mission to survive, we need to approach adapting our operations to this ever-changing world we live in.

Finally, we are looking at and planning for RFTW 2025. As most of you know, we owe our very existence to a dedicated, determined group of Vietnam Vets who, some 34 years ago, decided to march on Washington DC to participate in a peaceful protest over the treatment of our POWs and MIAs, along with multiple other issues. Recognizing that 2025 will be the 50th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, and the 35th anniversary of RFTW, Run 2025 will be the “Year of the Vietnam Vet”. We will not be dismissing the contributions of our other vets, but instead focusing on those that started what we are today. Again, more to follow. We are hoping that many of our Vietnam Vets will come back in 2025, even if only as Day Riders, so that we can recognize and thank them. RFTW is today what it is due to the care and concern of the “89ers”.

Back to Basics. Back to the RFTW Mission.

Is it May yet?

TurkeyJohn “Turkey” Staub
President, RFTW, Inc.
2011- CR FNG
2012 – CR Participant
2013 – CR Staging Team
2014 – 2015 – CR Staging Team Ass’t. Lead
2016-2017 – CR Staging Team Lead
2022 – CR Platoon Coordinator
2023 – CR and Sandbox Road Guard
2020 – Present – RFTW BoD member

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