Helping Veterans, Communities and Those Serving in Harm’s Way

Rick Gale  |   Wednesday Nov. 1st, 2017

In 1997, a small group of Vietnam Veterans formed a local chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America to meet the needs of veterans and military families in Gallatin County and surrounding areas.

Since then, the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 788 (VVA 788) has promoted and supported a full range of issues important to veterans through its Veteran Outreach Program. This has been accomplished through education, philanthropy, and countless hours of volunteer service.

VVA 788’s Veteran Outreach has included helping local veterans in crisis, volunteering at the Bozeman Warming Center, Hope and the Holidays, Salvation Army Bell Ringing, visiting with Bozeman Lodge Veteran Residents, providing a Veteran Scholarship at Gallatin College, participating in Veteran’s Day activities in schools throughout Gallatin County, and fundraising for a Veteran’s Cemetery in Bozeman.

In 2015, one of their own, Rick Gale was awarded the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his lifetime commitment to building a stronger nation through volunteer service. Rick volunteers as a member of the Bozeman Police Commission, Co-Chair of the Greater Gallatin Homeless Action Coalition, Gallatin County 911 Advisory Board, Gallatin County DUI Task Force, and Montana Chairman of the Elk’s Drug Awareness Program.

Most recently, Rick was honored during the Bozeman Memorial Day Parade as the 2017 Veteran of the Year for promoting the well-being and rights of veterans as a member of the Gallatin County Veteran Service Providers and for his service to our county as a Vietnam Veteran.

Rick served in the United States Marine Corps from 1966 -1970 and was assigned to 1st Light Anti-Aircraft Missile Battalion at the Da Nang Air Base during the Tet Offensive in 1967. His unit participated in a number of civic action programs that included outreach to a French Orphanage in Da Nang.

After Rick’s Tour of Duty in Vietnam, he was assigned to United States Pacific Command in Hawaii where he met Pris who was attending classes at the University of Hawaii. He married her back home in Southern California in 1970.  
Rick’s grandfather served in the United States Army during World War I, his father served in the Navy during World War II, and his oldest son served in the California National Guard during the Iraq War.
Rick is a part of the Bozeman Veteran’s community that is especially strong and active. If you are a new-to-town Veteran or haven’t been active in the Bozeman Veteran community and are looking for ways to give back this holiday season here are some volunteer opportunities:

Poppies for Nov. 11
Local veterans will be at area grocery stores giving away Poppies on Veterans Day. 15+ Bozeman Veterans have begun attaching paper tags on 3,000 poppies. Anyone wanting to help by getting some to take home and work on them there is very welcome to do so, call: Joe 582-5171

Festival of Trees
Veterans bring your patches to the Vietnam Veterans of America meeting Nov. 7th meeting.  Unit Patches, insignia of all kinds are welcome. Make some young boy happy with a decorated tree full of military memorabilia.  
Carl 580-2271

Hope and the Holidays
Hope & the Holidays is comprised of the Marine Corps League, Lions, Kiwanis and American Legion. This year there is a special need of gifts for babies, puzzles, books, and boys items ages 8-18.
Here is the volunteer schedule for December:
Dec. 9th, 9am Set-Up at Billion
Dec. 11th 4 - 8
Dec. 12th 4 - 8 Food Baskets
Dec. 13th 4 - 8 Unloading Potatoes
Dec. 14th 4 - 8 Deliver Turkeys
Dec. 15th to 20th 8:30am to 6:00 pm Distribution
Dec. 21st 5 - 7 Take Down
Dec. 23rd Pick Up Boxes
FMI Call Mason 734-765-4207

Salvation Army Bell Ringing
The Vietnam Veterans of America will be working with the Bozeman American Legion to help out the Salvation Army again this year. Tuesdays and Fridays, 10am to 6pm, 2 hour shifts. Start the Friday after Thanksgiving.  To sign up, call:
Chuck 600-4442

Veteran’s Day Celebrations at Local Elementary Schools
Many area elementary schools celebrate Veteran’s Day, a list will be coming soon asking for volunteers to attend these events and represent the Veteran community. The American Legion Post#14, Marine Corps League, Vietnam Veterans of America Southwest Montana, and Veterans of Foreign Wars will be participating in Veterans Day School Events throughout Gallatin. Contact Len Albright, Bozeman American Legion  or go to or for more info.

About the Author(s)

Rick Gale

Rick Gale is Assistant National Director for the Elks Drug Awareness Program, a Bozeman Public Schools Guest Teacher, and member of Veterans Alliance of Southwest Montana.

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