Raising awareness one "hoof" at a time

Republican Journal | By Kayla Barnes |July 29, 2016 at 10:17 am | Article Link

Tony Jones stopped outside of Legends Bar in Darlington to water his horses JT and Semper Fi on Tuesday, July 26. He set out from Fort Pierre, S.D. on June 5 to help raise awareness for veterans and the many needs they have.

“Since I left Fort Pierre, 1,146 veterans have committed suicide. That’s just not right,” Tony commented.

He is riding all the way to Washington D.C., to tell congress they need to do more to help the millions of veterans in the United States.

“I want this problem to be solved. We have not stood up for them. It is our responsibility. We haven’t taken control of this. We have been defended by these heroes and we need to take care of them.”

Tony has been a cowboy all this life. He said that July would have been his 54th anniversary since he was first put on a horse when he was six months old. Horses helped build America, so why not ride one to help build peoples awareness?

“I can’t believe what I’ve seen along the way. I want to get people riled up. When I started, I wasn’t sure if America existed anymore.”

He is just the messenger, he says. There is either right or wrong, truth or lie; there is no gray area.

“Once we solve this problem we will be able to solve them all.”

Tony is working with the Semper Fi Fund. It helps provide immediate financial assistance and lifetime support to post-9/11 wounded, critically ill and injured members of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. He said once he gets to Washington D.C. and gets the problem fixed, he will auction off his horses and his gear and all the proceeds will go to the Semper Fi Fund.

“I am proud to ride for them.”

He is not doing this all on his own. He began riding with Orville White Eyes but he had to turn back so Tony kept going. Tony’s sister, Wendy, who is in southern California, calls ahead on his route and asks for places to stay and sees if Tony can meet with any of the veterans in the area or stop at the VFW.

“We can’t just throw money at them because that makes it worse. How hard is it to throw your arm around them and say ‘thank you’ or ‘how can I help’ or ‘I haven’t forgotten about you’. We owe them something.”

Tony hopes to make it to Washington D.C. by late September. He has been able to find places to stay along the way and is more worried about his horses then himself.

“I can sleep wherever they sleep. I don’t get saddle sore. I say I got a rock-hard head and a cast iron (backside).”

Tony’s journey can be found on his Facebook page “Cowboys Ride For Veterans Awareness”. If you know someone who would be willing to let Tony and his horses stay with them on his trip, go to the Facebook page and let them know. Also, make sure to go to the semperfifund.org and donate.