Rhonda Ziehl, first Rhode Island Woman Veteran of the Year- 2018

Our own Rhonda Ziehl, who magnificently led the Rhode Island Blue Star Moms as President from 2015 through 2017 has been named  the first Rhode Island Woman Veteran of the Year- 2018. I would not imagine a better choice.

Rhonda Ziehl is an Air Force veteran who specialized as a bomb dog handler. During her military career, she worked with the Secret Service providing security support to President George W. Bush and Vice President Dan Quayle.

“Woman Veteran  of


the Year.” 




Senior Airman 


Rhonda Ziehl.


  • Rhonda and her husband Bill Ziehl champion Wreaths Across America at the Rhode Island Veteran’s Cemetery


Ziehl is part of a military family: she’s married to a fellow Air Force veteran, and her son is also a Veteran  of the United States Air Force having served as Load Master on behalf of the United States of America throughout the World. 

Ziehl is an active member of several local veterans organizations, Rhode Island Blue Star Moms, Wreaths Across America Rhode Island and Operation Stand Down’s Boots on the Ground committee. She is also a member of  American Legion William Shields Post 43 in Warwick.

Article Team McKenna MobiliaTough Ruck 2018

Tough Ruck is group of military and civilians whose sole purpose is to Ruck in honor and in memory of our Fallen Service Members, Police, Firefighters and EMTs, while raising funds to support military families in times of need. We will walk a 26.2 mile course with our Rucks and carry the names of our Fallen comrades with us.  On April 15, 2013, the Tough Ruck members were at the finish line of the Boston Marathon and joined the first responders to help those that were injured by the horrific blasts. They truly exemplify the best of what our Nation is.  Today the Ruck happens the Saturday before Boston Marathon Monday in Concord, Massachusetts on the original trails of the Revolutionary War. Tough Ruck is the only Ruck partnered with the Boston Marathon and finishers are awarded the official Boston Marathon Medals and receive recognition from the Boston Athletic Association.

You can donate to Team McKenna HERE


Tough Ruck Registration | Limited 1000 bibs! 

Registration opens on Saturday, November 11, 2017 @ 11:11AM  at Register on Veterans Day and receive the Tough Ruck patch!

Individual Charity Bib Registration:

FREE registration | $1500 fundraising commitment | Tough Ruck Performance  Jacket, Hoodie, Tech Tee, Official Boston Marathon Medal (finishers only)

Individual Registration Option 1:

$50 registration fee | $950 fundraising commitment | Hoodie, Tech Tee, Official Boston Marathon Medal (finishers only)

Individual Registration Option 2:

$125 registration fee | $450 fundraising commitment | Tech Tee, Official Boston Marathon Medal (finishers only)


Saturday, April 14, 2018


The Old Manse, 269 Monument Street, Concord, MA
(start/finish line)


7:15am – All Ruckers MUST complete the course within 9 hours. All will be removed from the course after that time period. Three waves will step-off all approximately 5 minutes apart.

Parking/Shuttle Buses:

There is no parking for Ruckers at the start/finish line.  All parking will be at 55 Old Bedford Road, Lincoln, MA.  Shuttle buses will run continuously from 5AM-7:30AM and 2PM-6PM.   There will be no bus or other transportation provided by the race after 6PM. Please note you must complete the course in 9 hours (official timing will stop at 9 hours) which should put you at the finish line by 4:30PM.  

Weight Divisions:

For 2018, their will be four divisions: Military Heavy, Military Light, Civilian Heavy and Civilian Light – You do not have to select your division at the time of registration.  Your ruck will be weighed the morning of the Ruck.  Make sure to check out Rules section for more detail information.

Tough Ruck Contact:



Sat, April 14, 2018 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM EDT
12 Snagwood Rd, Foster, RI 02825

Walk or Run to
support our troops.

Dare to Dream Ranch is a non-profit organization that has been giving our veterans experiencing symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, depression, MST, and mild traumatic brain injury an alternate therapy programs since 2014.

Our goal is 500 attendees and 20 vendors.
Register before March 31, 2018 to get a free shirt!

Click here for TICKETS


New this year, in addition to our trails we may also use the Ross Farm’s horse trails giving us 111 acres of land to walk or run in…BUT… Don’t forget to bring your horse because you can walk in the 5k with them in addition to being able to ride in all the trails you want after the event.

Dare to Dream Ranch is a non-profit organization that has been giving our veterans experiencing symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, depression, MST, and mild traumatic brain injury an alternate therapy programs since 2014.



2nd Annual Gold Star Gala

Reserve Your Tickets Here

2nd Annual Gold Star GalaJoin Operation Stand Down RI for our 2nd Annual Gold Star Gala. The Gala, to be held at Twin River Casino on Friday, May 18, 2018 is a night to honor Rhode Island’s Gold Star Families post 9/11. The term “Gold Star” refers to a family member who had a loved one killed in action during a war time in a foreign country while serving their nation. On this night, we honor the families left behind, remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, and to raise money for the Boots on The Ground for Heroes Memorial.


2nd Annual Gold Star Gala

This year the Gala is honored to announce our keynote speaker:  Lt. Colonel Justin Constantine, USMC, Retired. Our speaker, Justin Constantine joined the U.S. Marine Corps while in law school at the University of Denver School of Law and served as a JAG officer for six years.  As a reservist, Justin deployed to Iraq in 2006, serving as a Civil Affairs Team Leader while attached to an infantry battalion.  During a combat patrol, Justin was shot in the head by a sniper. For his service in Iraq, Justin earned the Purple Heart Combat Action Ribbon and Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medal. Justin retired from the Marine Corps at the rank of Lt. Colonel.  He is now an inspirational speaker and veteran advocate.


Boots on The Ground for Heroes MemorialThe Gold Star Gala will be the official kick off to OSDRI’s presentation of the Boots on the Ground for Heroes Memorial at Roger Williams Park, Memorial Day Weekend. In 2016, OSDRI launched the Boots on the Ground for Heroes Memorial with the widely acclaimed and dramatic display of nearly 7,000 military boots adorned with name placards and flags representing each American service member killed in the Global War on Terror. The first of its kind, the display garnered local and national news coverage for the past two years and continues to grow






On a comfortable Friday afternoon I had the pleasure of meeting with Karen Dalton at her Dare to Dream Ranch on Snagwood road in Foster, RI.
When you arrive at the ranch you are met by 2 super friendly dogs, Bear and Bella, who wag themselves silly while the 3 goats, Frick, Frack & Frank, are also bleating their hello’s. As we walked through the barn with the fresh smell of shavings and hay Karen explained her vision for converting the barn into a woodworking workshop when they build their indoor riding arena with attached barn that would have a loft apartment above for a qualified veteran to stay for free as the caretaker for the property.
We arrived at the first paddock where a gorgeous Percheron/Gypsy Vanner Draft cross named Seargent Xander and his sidekick Corporal Buzz. Xander sometimes is a bit skiddish with his own trust issues. So a slow approach and soft voice is the best approach for making friends with this beautiful huge horse. Next door is Captain Blue, named for his beautiful brilliant blue eye. He is as friendly as Seargent Xander is reserved. He was having fun moving the miniature horses , Freedom and Spirit, out of the way so he could their hay. Spirit enjoyed trying to nibble my hair through the fence while I was petting her and Blue. Hard not to relax and just chat with so much peace surrounding you. We visited the 2 senior, yet still very noble, Arabians names Ishrab and Tabitha.
I had the pleasure of watching Steve Frye, 2x Iraq Combat Vet, not only riding Sgt. Xander, but also learning to train him. Steve only began riding and working with horses 4 months ago! I was impressed to watch Steve’s ease of haltering Sgt. Xander in the paddock, saddling him and especially riding him! 4 months is not a long time for someone to learn to ride, build trust with a horse who has trust issues and build your own confidence in the saddle. I was able to watch Steve achieve all of this and with such confidence and pride!
As Karen & I strolled through the wooded paths listening to the quiet we discussed her dreams for future expansion of the facility, the paddocks, the rings and the trails. She shared some of the positive results of Veterans, and their families, who have already visited the Ranch for equine therapy (equine assisted coaching/ground therapy) , yoga, horticulture therapy and nutrition education, woodworking, and fly tying/fishing.
On a quiet, sunny Friday afternoon we both Dared to Dream of our hopes for Veterans and their families who will visit in the future.

Rhonda Ziehl, USAF,
RI Blue Star Moms


The R.I. Blue Star Moms volunteered Saturday June 11th and June 12th at the R.I. National Guard Air Show.  Blue Star Moms sold novelties and refreshments.   Thanks to all the Blue Star Moms who volunteered their time! Also, thanks to all who purchased from our booth and cart!


Blue Star Parents’ Day

84b3acf2-7afa-446f-8bdb-1287668f1b0e-large16x9_BLUESTARMOMS11_frame_925Here is a link to the NBC 10 news article and  interview with Blue Star Moms Ann Enos, Pat Casey, Cindy Gaccione, and Joan Fontaine.


Cranston added to national network of military memorials