Austin Veterans Jeep Club is more than just a Jeep Club, it is a group of men and women who are infused with a camaraderie that cannot be bought and can only be earned.
When I go home, people ask me, ‘Why do you do it? You some kind of war junkie?’ I won’t say a word. Why? They won’t understand. They won’t understand why we do it. They won’t understand it’s about the men next to you… and that’s it. That’s all it is. ~ Mark Bowden, Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War.
In this quote from his novel, Mr. Bowden succinctly puts into words the camaraderie that is burned into the souls of those who have served in our nations Armed Forces. People who have never served can only vaguely grasp at what it means to have this level of camaraderie. The brave men and women who have served honorably, know this camaraderie all too well and are bonded by it for life.
Upon arriving in Austin, Texas I went to a meet up of another Jeep club. While there, one of the Jeepers noticed my veteran plates and he walked over. As always, among veterans there was an instant bond, an understanding that we were both cut from a different cloth than most Americans. In short, at some point in time in our lives we each had voluntarily written a blank check made payable to the United States of America for an amount of “up to and including our lives.”
This jeeper told me about Austin Veterans Jeep Club, how they are involved in local veterans activities, and how they help each other out. He mentioned that it was mostly Army guys and that they didn’t have any Coast Guardsmen in the group. I told him that they should fix that. He agreed.
The next day he added me to the closed group on Facebook for Austin Veterans Jeep Club. I didn’t ask to join. I didn’t have to.
It is a brotherhood.
Having been part of it for awhile now, I felt that it was time I shared about this so that any other veterans in the area would be able to join if interested.
Austin Veterans Jeep Club: Origins
Veterans can be a rowdy, sometimes raunchy, and definitely an opinionated bunch. One could argue that we’ve earned that right. Remember the blank check?
In this day and age of political correctness, some of the comments and humor that veterans were sharing in other Jeep clubs wasn’t understood, appreciated, and in some cases, simply wasn’t tolerated by the other local groups.
In some cases the military members had been kicked out of those groups.
For what it’s worth, one could argue that some of the content was rightfully not tolerated. To each his/her own. This is still America right? Something about the First Amendment that your military service members have paid the ultimate price for. Heck I’ve even found some of the posts offensive but not to the point where I’d deny my brothers and sisters in uniform the right to the free speech they’ve fought to preserve.
It wasn’t so much the lack of tolerance that drove this group to form as much as it was the lack of understanding of the sense of humor, struggles, experience and camaraderie from those that hadn’t served. In addition, it seemed as though the other local Jeep groups and clubs in the area had so many members that it was difficult to connect with people of like mind anyway.
This is what caused Austin Veterans Jeep club to form.
So, in September 2015, Neil (the founder of Austin Veterans Jeep Club) decided it was time to make a local Austin Jeep club by veterans for veterans.
And for all those haters out there who are still rolling their offended eyes, who were upset by something one of the military guys or gals posted in your group… never forget that your freedoms have been protected directly by these veterans who have served.
Not only that, but the fact is that you wouldn’t even be driving a Jeep if it weren’t for the United States Army. What am I talking about? Read this.
Austin Veterans Jeep Club: Purpose
When you combine the sense of belonging that a Jeep club automatically has with the camaraderie that only a military background can bring you end up with a rabidly fierce, protective and supportive group of jeepers.
The purpose is simple. Camaraderie and support.
Recently a young, low ranked enlisted man needed communication equipment for his Jeep. For those that don’t know, the E-1 and E-2 ranks in the military don’t get paid very much at all. Comms are a critical piece to the Jeep life. So, the Austin Veterans Jeep Club stepped up. Members chipped in and together they purchased a CB radio and helped him install it. Why? Because there was a need and he was a brother.
It is that simple.
In addition, the Austin Veterans Jeep Club is getting involved in activities that are suited perfectly for the club. This year on Veterans Day, November 11th, you’ll see the Austin Veterans Jeep Club in the Official Veterans Day Parade. In this way the club gives back to the community at large.
One of the things I like the most about Austin Veterans Jeep Club is that they never leave a member stranded or in trouble. Believe me when I tell you that it is in their blood not to ever leave someone behind.
Every late night request be it a stranded member, a flat, out of gas, or blown engine, every call is answered. Had a little too much to drink? Message the group. Someone WILL pick you up. Need a favor? Just ask.
Every single request is answered. The Austin Veterans Jeep Club is a family and they act like it.
Austin Veterans Jeep Club: Membership
There are no fees or dues associated with membership in Austin Veterans Jeep Club. Which, as of this writing, has 109 members.
To become a member of Austin Veterans Jeep Club you must have served honorably in the United States Armed Forces and own a Jeep. Membership is also open to Active Duty and Reserves currently serving our nation.
Facebook is the main hub for communication for Austin Veterans Jeep Club, and you can request to join here on the Austin Veterans Jeep Club (AVJC) Facebook Group.
They have t-shirts and decals available for members which can be requested via the Facebook group. Merch can be picked up at any Austin Veterans Jeep club event. 100% of the proceeds from any purchases made go back into the group to pay for lunches or help veterans in need.
There are a handful of things that will get you kicked out of Austin Veterans Jeep Club in a hurry. The club will not tolerate threats of violence against any member of the group, child porn, religion bashing, or hate speech (unless it is about the ROTC).
But above all, the fastest way to get kicked out of Austin Veterans Jeep Club is to encourage or joke about veteran suicide. This is something that will get you booted so fast it will make your head spin.
Many of the members of the group have seen things that nobody should ever have to see and done things that nobody should ever want to do.
The life of a veteran is not an easy one. It is definitely a life that should be respected.
Austin Veterans Jeep Club: Activities
Austin Veterans Jeep Club is not as active as some of the larger groups in the Austin area, but as membership grows so does the demand for club activities.
The Austin Veterans Jeep Club goes out as a group to Hidden Falls Adventure park once per month on average. This monthly trip may or may not involve a full weekend of camping, BBQ, drinking, games, and the like.
Beyond that the Austin Veterans Jeep Club gets together to do Jeep mods, and Taco Tuesday is a regular thing.
In addition, the Austin Veterans Jeep Club supports the charity Wheelers for the Wounded and other needs in the veteran community as they arise. They are constantly on the lookout for any support they can give to veteran jeepers and their families.
The meet ups tend to be smaller in size than some of the other area groups and clubs, but this just makes for more meaningful friendships.
Austin Veterans Jeep Club: Closing Thoughts
If you are a military veteran in the Austin area who is into the Jeep life and are looking to continue the sense of camaraderie you had in the service, consider joining the Austin Veterans Jeep Club.
Make sure that you are the kind of person who is willing to lend a hand at anytime day or night to a fellow veteran. Make sure that you can take a joke. As I stated earlier, if you are easily offended by things that aren’t politically correct this probably isn’t the group for you.
When I first joined (I think I was the first Coast Guardsman in the group) Even though I served 20+ years of Active Duty service and retired honorably, I caught holy hell from the members. Everyone poking fun at the Coast Guard. There is no safe haven here. But it is all in how you handle it. The members watch to see what you are made of.
In truth it doesn’t matter what branch of service you were in. You will catch hell. Honestly, it is to be expected. We all rail on each other all the time in the group. It is part of the fun.
But believe this, we veterans can make fun of one another. Don’t try it if you’ve never served. If anyone who hasn’t served ever bashes on a member of the Austin Veterans Jeep Club, you better believe the entire club will have his or her back.
It is a brotherhood.
Let me know your thoughts on Austin Veterans Jeep Club. Are you a member? Leave a comment and let me know.
Until next time, keep it dirty and wheels side down.