Coast Guard Veteran Riding The Roads To Raise Awareness Of Veteran Issues

Monterey, VA – Lee Wonnacott is a man on a mission. A Coast Guard veteran currently living in Gold Hill, North Carolina, Lee is traveling around the United States on his motorcycle. Lee describes the reason he is in Monterey this month.

“I call it Ride Around America” he says, “it’s about a two and a half, three year trip, 175,000 miles total. I’m already 41,000 miles into it and it will take me to every county, borough and parrish in the lower 48 states, 3059 stops; and in each county I’m documenting at least one Veterans memorial. Basically I’m trying to go ahead and create awareness for Veterans issues; especially today when we have a volunteer force and we have only about one percent of our citizens are serving in the military. We really need to be aware of what they’re doing and what we’re asking on them.”

When I spoke to Lee in Monterey last week he had just visited the veteran’s memorial next to the courthouse.

“I’m proud to say that when I stopped here in Monterey, they’ve got a beautiful memorial here and they’ve got a walk of honor; and there’s I think six men from this county served in the coast guard; well Semper Paratus [Always Ready], shipmates!” says Wonnacott.

Lee talks about when his travels began.

“Well I’ve been actually doing it for about 4 years” he says. “I started in earnest two years ago, got 19,000 miles into the trip, then I had a health problem and I couldn’t ride for a year and a half. I went through a couple of surgeries, had some pancreatic tumors, had to go to VA [Veterans Administration health center]. VA did an outstanding job of taking care of me. I’ve gotten probably the best health care I could have from VA.”

When his travels are over, Lee will not be finished with this project.

“A book will come out of it at the end once I’ve compiled it; [once] I know all the different areas of the nation. I may go ahead and create a non-profit. Most people do not recognize that the Veterans Administration is out there giving services to injured warriors and older Veterans who are indigent and don’t have enough money to pay for their healthcare.”

In addition to the book, Lee would like to establish an organization that would work with dentists around America to provide dental care either free or at reduced cost to veterans. Lee already has the title for his book. When people give him directions to the local county courthouse, they often end with this phrase.

“You can’t miss it, there’s a cannon in the yard” he says. “They have lived in this town or this county all of their life; they’ve been by the county courthouse hundreds of times, they have seen that cannon and it’s never clicked why that old cannon is sitting in the yard.”

If you want to follow Lee on his travels, he has a website called Roads and Riders dot com. You can post messages, see Lee’s schedule and even make arrangements to ride along with him on part of his journey in support of America’s veterans.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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