Paul Halverson, a Vietnam Disabled American Veteran, chose a bicycle trip from Washington to Maine to encourage younger veterans to seek out the DAV.
His bicycle trailer topped with a staff carrying the American flag and the POW/MIA black banner, Halverson said he stops in towns along the way to raise awareness.
"It's more or less to reach out to the new era of Iraq and Afghanistan, to get them to join their DAV chapters," Halverson said.
DAV Chapter 7, Bemidji, Commander Robert Saddoris met the cyclist outside Bemidji Tuesday and escorted him with a flag-decked pickup truck to the Lake Bemidji waterfront.
Halverson, a pilot for seagoing vessels on the Great Lakes, said he developed the idea for the trek after getting in shape with an elliptical trainer and losing significant poundage last winter. He took the Amtrak Empire Builder to Seattle and started his trip east from Everett, Wash.
He said he didn't join the DAV in 1969 when he returned from two tours in Vietnam serving with the 25th Infantry Division and the 9th Infantry Division.
"I was really paranoid about anything I thought was government-related because I didn't want to end up back in Vietnam," he said.
However, he said, he wants to dispel the idea that the DAV is government-related. The organization receives no government funding, he said, but lobbies for veterans' benefits and rights.
Besides his outreach for the DAV, Halverson said the ride has been a grand adventure.
"I've enjoyed every minute of it," he said. "It's a great. Big beautiful country."