Wounded Veterans Ride Together and Forge New Path to Recovery with Wounded Warrior Project
MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (Aug. 18, 2017) – Marine Corps veteran and wounded warrior Greg Padilla was on the last stretch of road before the last stop of the day when he opened up about his experiences on a bicycle over the last two days.
“There’s been a lot of bonding among everyone, but when you have that added element of being injured, you find yourself in one of two camps – you’re either isolated, or you’re not isolated,” Greg said. “A lot of the warriors here actually identified themselves as isolated. And this was an opportunity for them to speak with other veterans, engage with other veterans, and do something other than hiding within our homes.”
Greg, like the other wounded veterans riding with him, participated in a Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) Soldier Ride, a multi-day cycling event that challenges injured veterans to push themselves physically and mentally as they manage visible and invisible wounds of war. Just like in their military service, they don’t go alone and always finish together.
“This ride brings back that sense of unity and camaraderie that we get used to in the military,” Greg said. “It’s very therapeutic in the sense that you have someone who’s got shared experiences with you. There’s men and women that you don’t have to explain yourselves to, because they already understand you.”
Many others shared these feelings throughout the weekend, including Audra Edelen, an active-duty Army reservist served by WWP.
“I had a goal for myself coming into this event: to meet new warriors,” she said. “A lot of the veterans in my community are Korea, Vietnam, and World War II veterans, so I don’t get a chance to really connect with people my own age, who also understand me. I can be a bit shy, so being here with other veterans has been a big deal for me.”
In a WWP survey of the injured warriors it serves, more than half of survey respondents (51.7 percent) talked with fellow veterans to address their mental health issues. The same survey found 29.6 percent of survey respondents expressed physical activity helps them cope with stress and emotional concerns.
“Everyone has their own situations and problems, but every veteran I’ve met can relate at some level,” Audra said. “There are resources out there, and there’s hope. If you’re having a bad day, or feeling hopeless, just having that moment to talk to another warrior can make a huge difference. Wounded Warrior Project helped me make those connections, and it’s made a huge difference in my life.”
At all WWP events, warriors get the chance to learn how they can connect with WWP’s other life-saving programs and services, which empower them to live their lives on their terms. To learn more, visit https://newsroom.woundedwarriorproject.org. To find photos from this Soldier Ride, click on multimedia, then images.
Contact: Mattison Brooks – Public Relations