In August 2019, Commandos MC held their very first show and shine fundraiser in Lethbridge to raise funds for the Interfaith Food Bank, but that is only a small part of what they do.
“The local members of the Southern Alberta Chapter in Rockyview picked this charity to donate to as there is no defined veteran assisted food bank in the Lethbridge area,” explains 28 year Army officer, Vance McGrath, who serves as the Vice-President of Commandos MC, explains. “We felt that any veteran in need would utilize the Interfaith food bank and as such we decided to support this.”
McGrath says that such work connects like-minded veterans that have a variety of aspects in common such as riding motorcycles, volunteering for charity work, and other opportunities that allow them to work together in achieving the organizations overall mandate. Those activities, McGrath says, include simple phone calls during the dark and dirty times or organized events concentrating on raising funds or gathering food for the homeless.
“The organizations assumed mandate is to assist veterans throughout the country any way they can concentrating on veterans with PTSD but have branched into homeless veterans and food banks across the country,” McGrath says.
Originally formed as Veteran Commandos MC in 2015, McGrath says that the club has evolved into what is now known as Commandos MC. In other words, veterans working with Compatriots, or civilians.
“Being that our club is formed from veterans personally helped me immensely in getting me out of the shell, that so-called funk I was in when I left the military,” McGrath says. “Now, I have brothers to lean on when I need them and also I can be there for when they need me. It’s something a lot of vets miss when they step away from military life.”
Active chapters of Commandos MC are located in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland, McGrath says. The establishment of chapters in BC and Saskatchewan are currently in progress.
Originally formed as Veteran Commandos MC in 2015, McGrath says, Commandos MC is a National club with the executive spread throughout the provinces, says. Such a format, McGrath says, allows the leadership to get a clear understanding of the clubs overall operation through the individual representatives of the provinces.
“In Alberta we have concentrated on helping the homeless veteran situation through several campaigns throughout the year.,” McGrath says. “An example of this is our show and shine events, our annual backpack for homeless drive, and the continual support our Calgary Chapter provides with the Veterans food bank in their area.”
Although club members have been in Alberta in low numbers basically from the startup of the club in 2015 but have become very active with bigger numbers within the last 3 years, McGrath emphasizes. McGrath believes that the club helps the members more than the non-members just by being part of an organization that has structure and goals geared towards helping their brothers; it creates a feeling of self-worth, McGrath says.
“It’s a great feeling knowing that your helping anyone not just veterans that need any help you can give,” McGrath says. “Sometimes, it’s as simple as a chat or more a complex situation like finding them housing or putting someone in contact with an organization that they never knew existed that can help them out. From the positive reactions our members get at the events we host or attend, we know people are happy with the support we give to the community in whatever capacity we can.”