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Kanesville Honor Guard dedicates May concert to supporting veterans

The group gives '110%' to military rites, PTSD treatment and honor flights
Posted at 7:11 PM, Apr 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-19 14:08:26-04

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (KMTV) — The Kanesville Honor Guard in Council Bluffs was founded in 2014 with the purpose of ensuring all veterans receive a proper military funeral.

The group has taken off ever since it renovated and moved into its building at the corner of 30th and B in 2018.

"We started this group and when I saw the building, I took it back to these guys and they all thought I was crazy," President and Co-founder Al Ruby said.

"It was not much to look at when we bought it,” Vice President Keith Confer added. “There was some work, and we rehabbed the entire inside."

Now it's the home base for about 50 members, who have provided military rites for more than 900 veterans.

"I came in here and go, well, this is the real thing,” Kanesville Honor Guard Member Bob Olsen said. “It's well organized, it's a well-run machine."

"I came to a meeting, I walked in, the building was nice, everybody was super nice, and then that was it," Event Coordinator Charla Capecci said.

Their work goes well beyond funeral services. The Kanesville Honor Guardprovides veterans with free honor flights — a three-day trip to Washington D.C.

“By the end of the first day they’re all talking to each other, sharing experiences, and they’ve become friends overnight basically,” Confer said of the veterans who go on the trip.

Ruby credits the community for making it possible.

“It’s not just the Kanesville Honor Guard, it’s a bunch of people doing things together and the community giving back,” he said. “It’s law enforcement, the fire department, sheriff's department; everybody is getting involved in this.”

They have also prioritized camaraderie and mental health.

Former President Ed Kerns says the Kanesville Honor Guard is a great place to start for veterans suffering from PTSD.

Kerns, a marine veteran and purple heart recipient, told me he suffered with PTSD for 23 years without getting help.

"My pride said no I'm ok, I'm fine. No, I wasn't good. I wasn't fine. I wasn't okay,” he said. “I was just being stubborn. Too proud to go get help."

He eventually did seek help through the VA. That's where he met counselor Lyle Burkle, and other veterans going through a similar experience.

"Being around the other veterans,” Kerns choked up. “Being able to talk, vent, and know that you're not alone; that's when the help started."

Burkle retired from the VA, but his service continues.

Now, as a counselor whom all veterans have access to for free at the Kanesville Honor Guard.

"It's like a train derailment. When a veteran gets derailed it's hard to get back on that track again,” Ruby said. “Well, we got the counselor who can get them back on the right track, maybe even get them a set of new wheels."

Their message to veterans in our community is a simple one.

"I encourage any veteran that feels that no one cares..." Kerns became overwhelmed.

"There's always somebody there who cares,” Ruby broke the silence. “Always."

"You can feel safe here,” Treasurer Cindy Ruby added. “Coming here you feel safe."

Al Ruby says he wishes his brother, who created the patch for the Kanesville Honor Guard, could see how far the organization has come and where his patch has been.

The Kanesville Honor Guard is putting on a concert to bring all the veterans together, to raise awareness of PTSD, and raise money for the next honor flight in October. You can find the details below.

Focus on the Veterans Concert

Westfair Amphitheatre in Council Bluffs

  • Friday, May 19th (Starts at 4 p.m.)  


  • Shenandoah, R Factor, and Shadow Ridge. 

The concert is only available for veterans and first responders to attend.

  • With proof of service, each receives four free tickets. 

You must get tickets ahead of time. To do so:

  • Visit the clubhouse (3000 Avenue B, Council Bluffs, Iowa) 
  • Call one of the following numbers 
  • (402)-301-1695, (402)-301-1694, (402)-630-3272, (402)-659-3823 
  • Visit the group’s table at the Westfair Amphitheatre Gun Show (April 21-23)