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Northwest Harley-Davidson wins American Legion Military Employer Award

Northwest Harley-Davidson co-owner Joe Deck will receive the American Legion’s Employer of Veterans award for Washington State on behalf of the company at the Department of Washington’s annual convention in Spokane next month. Photo by Kevin Knodell

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Lacey-based motorcycle dealership Northwest Harley-Davidson will be awarded the American Legion's Employer of Veterans Award for Washington State.

Company co-owner Joe Deck will receive the plaque on behalf of Northwest Harley in Spokane during the American Legion Department of Washington's annual convention on July 17. The dealership is also in the running for the Legion's national employer award, and it will represent Washington at the national convention if selected.

Tina Torfin, Northwest Harley's marketing manager and president of the AUSA's Lacey subchapter, said that 20 percent of the company's employees are veterans. That doesn't even include the several spouses employed at Northwest Harley.

"It's a huge honor to be up for an award like this" Torfin said.

The company has long had strong ties to the Pacific Northwest's veteran community, both retired and active duty.

During the last two years during the annual Ride for Remembrance motorcycle rally, Northwest Harley-Davidson helped the Lancer Soldier and Family Fund raise funds to build the 2nd Stryker Brigade memorial, which was slated for dedication last weekend as of press time. Last year, the company raised $29,000; this year's ride, held in April, raised $16,000.

American motorcycle culture has long been heavily influenced by U.S. servicemembers. Several of the earliest motorcycle clubs were formed by veterans returning from World War II. Civilian life left many returning soldiers restless and seeking adventure, and riding motorcycles gave them a small taste of the excitement they felt during the war.

Harley-Davidson models were particularly popular with soldiers, as the company had produced motorcycles for the Army during the war, and many soldiers had first-hand experience with them.

Veterans' motorcycle clubs became even more important during and after the bloody war in Vietnam. American veterans often returned home to a country that didn't understand them or their experiences. Motorcycle clubs gave these Vietnam veterans a sense of camaraderie and belonging many longed for after leaving the service.

Motorcycles continue to be popular with current generation veterans.

Torfin said that Northwest Harley-Davidson's commitment to soldiers and their families runs deep. The company has hosted re-enlistment ceremonies for JBLM servicemembers renewing their contracts with Uncle Sam. The dealership has also offered itself up as a free wedding venue for military couples tying the knot.

"Even with everything we do, it never feels like enough to pay them back for everything they do for us," Torfin said.

For more information about Northwest Harley-Davidson, visit them at

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