Organization Name: Rolling Thunder®, Inc.
Year Founded: 1987
Who Founded: Artie Muller and Ray Manzo
Home city: Neshanic Station, New Jersey
Member dues: Annual Dues $30.00 per year/Patch Deposit $150
1. How did Rolling Thunder get started?
In the fall of 1987, Artie Muller and Ray Manzo two Vietnam veterans met to discuss their personal concerns about the POW/MIA's from the Vietnam War. Having honorably served their country and having taken an oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies..." and to "bear true faith and allegiance to the same," they were deeply troubled by the neglect of attention given to those who did not make it out with their lives or their freedom. These veterans discussed the more than 10,000 reported sightings of live Americans living in dismal captivity. Intelligence reports of these sightings were generally ignored by the government and mainstream press.
2. What's the Organization's mission?
The major function of Rolling Thunder®, Inc. is to publicize the Prisoners of War-Missing In Action (POW/MIA) issue: To educate the public that many American Prisoners of War were left behind after all previous wars, and to help correct the past and to protect future veterans from being left behind should they become POW/MIA's. We are also committed to helping American veterans from all wars. Rolling Thunder®, Inc. is a non-profit organization and everyone donates his or her time because they believe in the POW/MIA issue.
3. Does Rolling Thunder organize regular ride days or is it more involvement with charity rides and rallies?
Rolling Thunder state chapters organize rides in their states to raise funds to help local veterans in need and to publicize the POW/MIA issue. The state chapters of Rolling Thunder are also active in their communities, supporting and sponsoring other organizations fund raisers. In 2007, Rolling Thunder® Charities, Inc. was established as a 501(c)(3) tax exempt non-profit organization which enables individuals and corporations to receive a tax deduction for funds donated to Rolling Thunder® Charities, Inc. Funds are used for veterans, active military and their families in need of help and 95 percent of all funds raised are directed to helping veterans. No officers of Rolling Thunder® Charities, Inc. receive compensation.
Rolling Thunder spends hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in financial support, food, clothing and other essentials to veterans, homeless veterans and veterans' families in need, women's crisis centers and toys for children. The organization regularly donates POW/MIA flags to local area schools, youth groups, non-profit organizations, special interest groups and organizes flag raising ceremonies. Veterans speak to youth groups about the honor of serving their country and educating them about the POW/MIA issue. Rolling Thunder has advocated and co-authored legislation to improve the POW/MIA issue, veterans' benefits, concerns and interests.
4. Is there a big event each year all members try to attend?
The annual Rolling Thunder "Ride for Freedom" Washington, DC, Memorial Day Weekend is the major event of the organization. Rolling Thunder chapters and members are required to attend this demonstration. The 27th "Ride for Freedom" is scheduled for May 25, 2014. The number of participants/spectators in the Memorial Day weekend "Ride for Freedom" has grown from 2,500 to an estimated 900,000.
5. How can motorcycle riding be therapeutic to the returning vet?
It provides them the freedom to be out on the road with no one telling them what they have to do. You are in total control of yourself and free of mind. It's just you and the ride.
6. How many chapters are there?
We have more than 95 chartered chapters throughout the United States and additional members abroad.
7. What is required of a member?
Rolling Thunder members are required to participate in chapter meetings/events, follow the organization Constitution and By-laws, pay yearly dues. While many members of Rolling Thunder are veterans and many ride motorcycles, neither qualification is a prerequisite. Rolling Thunder members are old and young, men and women, veterans and non-veterans. All are united in the cause to bring full accountability for POW/MIA's of all wars, reminding the government, the media and the public by our watchwords: "We Will Not Forget."
8. Why should a veteran join Rolling Thunder?
Veterans have a common bond that non-veterans do not posses or understand. Veterans that join Rolling Thunder have the opportunity to join together with members who are veterans to work on the mission of helping needy veterans. A Rolling Thunder member who is a veteran finds support, healing and friendship with both veteran/non-veteran members of the organization.
9. Why should a non-veteran join Rolling Thunder?
Non-veterans should join to show their support and appreciation to our veterans who have fought for the freedoms they enjoy daily. Rolling Thunder has a large number of dedicated non-veteran members, including Junior Members (under 18 years of age). We are not a motorcycle club, but greatly appreciate the support of the motorcycle community.