Veterans IV Veterans

Veterans IV Veterans is a West Valley motorcycle association that aids veterans in need and takes part in veterans events like the Buckeye Veterans Day Parade.

Sitting across the lunch table from fellow Veterans IV Veterans member Brian Kendall, Dustin Abbas often looks at a notebook to confirm an event or double-check a date.

“I have to write down everything,” said Abbas, polishing off his fries at Moe’s Burgers in Glendale.

Abbas was a medic with the U.S. Army from 1998 until 2013, serving in Iraq. In 2011, the vehicle Abbas was in hit a mine. The explosion propelled him out of the vehicle, and he landed headfirst.

“I got up, dusted myself off and went back to trying to help people,” he said. 

His wife knew something was wrong when he called and asked how she was doing in the snowstorm. She was in Hawaii.

Though he suffered a traumatic brain injury, Abbas served another two years, hiding his failing memory by writing down everything he had to do each day. 

After a medical discharge from the Army, Abbas settled in Phoenix, just outside Glendale. He felt he was drifting, until he found Veterans IV Veterans.

Though the group is nominally a motorcycle association, “We’re just a bunch of vets helping other vets,” said Kendall, who lives in Peoria.

 On Veterans Day, there are plenty of events for those who served in the military.

Members of Veterans IV Veterans take part in several of the big ones, including a Saturday, Nov. 9, parade in Buckeye and a Monday, Nov. 11, event at the Glendale Public Library.

While Veterans Day is a special time for them, Abbas and Kendall say they are just as committed to helping veterans the other 364 days of the year.

“We’re the people behind the scenes, at a lot of veterans events,” said Kendall, who served in both the Army (1977-80) and U.S. Air Force (1981-85).

Kendall, who lives in Peoria, and other members of the West Valley group say helping other veterans has helped them find purpose post-active duty.

They say one of the most meaningful things they do is hosting bingo every Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at the Phoenix Veterans Administration Community Living Center.

“The guys we play bingo with are usually the sickest of the sick,” said Robert “Tiny” Hogan. “A lot of them aren’t going home.”

Hogan and his Veterans IV Veterans comrades have spent time with dying veterans, sharing tears and prayers and letting them the military bond is with them to the end.

“The hardest part for me is the bingo, when we lose patients,” said Hogan.

Yet he soldiers on, feeling the purpose this group has given him.

Though the group is nominally a motorcycle association, “We’re just a bunch of vets helping other vets,” said Kendall, who lives in Peoria.

Hogan and Kendall co-founded

Veterans IV Veterans four years ago. The association now has 22 members around the West Valley. They have found comradeship, post-military.

“I get along with other veterans better than citizens,” said Hogan, a pro wrestling-sized Goodyear resident with an ironic nickname.

“You can relate to them better.”

Hogan, 52, is a Desert Storm combat veteran. After his discharge from the Army with a  post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis, the PTSD symptoms hit him so fiercely there were days he wouldn’t leave his house.

Then he realized other veterans were far worse off, and helping them would also help him.

They are an active association, overcoming individual problems - several have PTSD, Abbas also had a traumatic brain injury - to aid other veterans, or just to celebrate the service.

On Veterans Day, the Veterans IV Veterans group will be in Glendale for a ceremony that includes the raising of a new flag and incineration of old American flags. 

The Glendale event starts at 9 a.m. Monday, Nov. 11 at the Glendale Main Library Auditorium, 5959 W. Brown Street. Speakers are planned, as well as a flyover by Luke Air Force Base.

“They should be fun,” Hogan said.

While there is plenty of entertaining, uplifting events and specials around Veterans Day, the other 364 days of the year veterans can drift into the shadows. Hogan and his group stay active around the year. For veterans who are struggling, they deliver food and help clean yards.

All the assistance and events can be exhausting, Hogan said. “We’ve got to try to make time for ourselves with family and our kids,” he said.

“Sunday, we’re going to get together as a family group and enjoy some time together.”

When he uses the word “family,” it includes his association, Veterans IV Veterans.

“It’s a lot of work — a lot of work,” Hogan said.

“But it’s what I thought it would be. And it’s starting to get rewarding. People you helped years ago, you’re running back into. You’re seeing their lives are better.”

Abbas said was drifting three years ago until he heard about Veterans IV Veterans.

“I was going through a lot of hardship. I didn’t have a place in society,” Abbas said.

“When I met them, I went up to Tiny and put my hand on his shoulder and said, ‘Hey, what’s this group all about?’

“It’s what you learn in grade school - go up to the biggest, baddest dude and talk to him. And he was really nice.”

Indeed, Tiny Hogan proved to be soft-spoken and caring. And, he said, he is grateful to the group for making his own life better;

“For me, it’s important. It gives me a purpose. It gives me a purpose to get out of the house. Without that, I don’t know what I’d do.” 

Abbas seconded that, saying that being a part of Veterans IV Veterans has given him direction.

“It’s been a lifeline for me,” said Abbas. 

“It’s easier for veterans to talk to other veterans. We’ve all been through the same stuff.”

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