Billmark spearheads ‘We Got Your Back’
Thomas A. Kvamme
Town & Country
A grass roots effort to bring individuals and communities together in support of law enforcement, fire fighters and emergency medical personnel is being spearheaded by a Milaca native.
Operating as “We Got Your Back USA,” this group is working to take a hard stand in support of those who put their lives on the line in defense of others.
Gordie Billmark, a 1973 graduate of Milaca High School, now makes his home in Alexandria where he is the owner of Billmark’s Lakes Area Insurance and is one of the men behind this effort.
Billmark first went to Alexandria for schooling following high school and has been working in that area ever since.
For 10 years he worked in the banking field as a loan officer, only to take over and manage the bank’s insurance agency for a period of five years.
He then began on his own in the insurance field and now has four locations throughout Central Minnesota.
The concept came to be as Billmark, along with a client and close friend Craig McMillan, began brainstorming on what could be done to show support.
“After so many things were happening with the officers and no respect being shown, along with no support from our governor and politicians,” the close friends decided to take this effort on their shoulders.
The hope was to bring the community together to let officers know, that “we got your back.”
Billmark and McMillan had been talking with law enforcement for a period of time, trying to determine what it was that “they need from the communities they serve.”
It was from all that the organization has taken shape.
Billmark went on to point out, “in the past to become a highway patrol officer you had to wait to be accepted, but now the numbers are down and they are just begging for troopers, due to the lack of respect and the job has become so dangerous.”
It was decided this effort would include support for police, sheriff, highway patrol, emergency medical technicians and firefighters.
While the effort is still in its infancy, Billmark noted they are in the process of putting up billboards on major interstates, while seeking more support to do even more.
To pull this off, Billmark and McMillan first brought together a committee, with a lot of graphic art individuals, media and all branches that would be supported.
While this effort is only “approximately four months in the works,” Billmark noted a lot of people are “really grabbing onto this.”
Billmark indicated the feedback has been great thus far.
Along with everything else, the effort has plans to support the state Law Enforcement Memorial Association (LEMA).
Jeff Beahen, who serves as chief of police in Rogers, is the state president of LEMA and “is all over this, and very supportive.”
Along with the billboards, the group has also made yard signs available to the public.
Billmark noted the group is more than willing to share information and signs, while they will be accepting donations to help offset the costs.
He indicated all of the costs to date have “been free,” thanks to the generous work of the graphic arts and other individuals.
The major expense is placing billboards, while the group is now seeking $30,000 to “do so.”
On that note, Billmark hinted, “how cool would it be to have a billboard on the north and southbound lanes of Hwy. 169 outside of Milaca?”
To date the group has raised $7,500 of that goal.
This effort “just feels good,” Billmark said.
It is hoped the “We Got Your Back” effort will not only bring awareness, but will teach respect of law enforcement officials to children for generations to come.
The mission statement of the “We Got Your Back” includes the following.
1. The work done by our law enforcement officials is a vital part of the safety and security of our local Communities, State and Nation.
2. Law enforcement personal, both men and women, are under constant scrutiny, at the same time, placing their lives on the line each and every day.
3. Law enforcement have families that fear the loss of their loved ones daily.
4. The respect for law enforcement starts in the home and not on the streets.
5. We the members of our community supporting the “We Got Your Back” campaign, stand behind our law enforcement personal, and will honor respect, teach and support our men and women of these courageous professions, as much as humanly possible.
Billmark has plans to expand this program and has started speaking at a “lot of service clubs,” in an effort to get out and reach as many as he can and garner support.
At the same time, he has plans to begin reaching out to schools, with the focus of his message centering around respect.
With this effort up and now running in Douglas County, the hope is that other cities and counties across the state, and perhaps the country, will grab onto this vision.
To learn more about the program, or to perhaps become involved, you can reach Billmark at (320) 760-9359 or visit www.wegotyourbackusa.org.