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‘Thank a Vet Month’ in San Luis Obispo County only costs $5

Greg Shearer was tending bar at the Olde Port Inn in 2006 when he asked his younger patrons if they knew the significance of Veterans Day.

With the exception of one person, he got blank stares in return.

So, for the next month, he dedicated his tips to a dinner for 120 vets at the Harford Pier restaurant.

That same year, during an appointment with a Veterans Administration health care provider, Shearer learned vets needed transportation from San Luis Obispo County to VA clinics in Los Angeles. He started a fundraising drive at bars in Pismo Beach, Avila Beach, Morro Bay and Los Osos called “Your Pennies for Our Veterans.”

Ride-On coordinator Mark Shaffer heard what Shearer was doing and offered 32 vans for transportation.So, between Ride-On’s contributions and Shearer’s additional fundraising, the Veterans Ride-On Program filled the need of vets who had no other means of getting to medical appointments.

Over the years, ridership has grown while dollars dwindled — despite the efforts of Shaffer and Shearer. The program, which used to cost $26,000 a year to operate, now costs about $42,000 annually.

Shearer and Shaffer once again put their heads together and thought up “Thank a Vet Month.”

The county Board of Supervisors passed a proclamation Nov. 2 designating November “Thank a Veteran Month.”

Ride-On is selling red, white or blue bracelets for $5 apiece. “Thank a Vet” bracelets can be purchased at locations including the Madonna Inn and Spencer’s Fresh Markets; tri-colored red, white and blue bracelets are available to veterans for free.

To purchase a bracelet, call Shaffer’s office at 541-8747. Donations should be sent to Vets Ride-On Program, 3620 Sacramento Dr., Suite 201, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401.

Meanwhile, Shearer is holding a golf tournament at Blacklake Golf Resort in Nipomo this weekend and a Texas hold ’em poker tournament tomorrow at the San Luis Obispo Veterans Hall. The tourney begins at 4:30 p.m.

The Ride-On program has grown from about 80 riders a month to 140 riders — which equates to 280 round-trip rides monthly.