TAMPA, Fla. — The Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association in Tampa Bay is on a mission to help other veterans.
“The thing that binds us together is we like to ride motorcycles. The other thing that binds us together is we have seen combat,” said David Allen, a CVMA member.
Allen fought in the Gulf War.
“I was a medic there. It was a great time and it was the scariest time of my life,” said Allen.
Nicholas Morales did two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and said he was really struggling after coming home.
“I met them at the right time. I was battling suicide and battling PTSD,” said Morales, a CVMA member. “We would sit down and process things that I’ve never even told anyone and it was through that, that I got healing.”
Morales said healing came in the brother and sisterhood of CVMA, a group that isn’t only there for each other but is there for vets who have no one else.
“Our mission is vets helping vets,” said Allen.
CVMA Chapter 20-10 has made it their mission to adopt veterans who have no family to claim their bodies and make sure they get a proper military burial.
“As a veteran myself I don’t want to see any veterans buried without their honors,” said Allen
Just in the last two years, the group has worked in part with the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa and area law enforcement to escort close to 35 unclaimed vets to their final resting place.
Now, Allen said their Final Mile program is starting to be recognized nationally.
“The Final Mile is a commitment to ensure that no veteran goes to their final resting place alone,” said Allen.
The combat veterans have ridden as far as 2,000 miles to make sure an unclaimed veteran’s wishes were fulfilled to be buried next to their mother in Kentucky.
“Every situation is different, but there’s not a limit to what we’re willing to do,” said Allen.
The group's members say they find purpose in being a family for those who have none and giving unclaimed vets the honorable burial they deserve.
“We’re not necessarily serving the country any longer. But we’re serving those who have served,” said Allen.