Wounded Warriors Forge New Friendships During Soldier Ride in Washington
Visiting the White House was only part of the Washington, DC Soldier Ride, though it maintained a proud tradition among United States presidents that began in 2008 with President George W. Bush and continued through 2016 with President Barack Obama.
WASHINGTON (April 24, 2017) – When Army veteran James Myers first connected with Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) three years ago in Hawaii, meeting the president of the United States was not something he expected to happen as a result. James recently joined 53 other wounded veterans in the East Room of the White House, to be greeted by the president, vice president, and the first and second ladies. The special ceremony was part of Soldier Ride®, a multi-day bicycling event that connects warriors with one another to help heal their bodies and minds.
“When I lived in Hawaii, I went through a warrior transition program because I had a traumatic brain injury,” James explained. “That’s where I first got connected with Wounded Warrior Project, and they’ve been a big help for me with the events they do. Soldier Ride was something I had wanted to do for a while now.”
Visiting the White House was only part of the Washington, DC Soldier Ride, though it maintained a proud tradition among United States presidents that began in 2008 with President George W. Bush and continued through 2016 with President Barack Obama. The day before, James pedaled alongside his brothers and sisters in arms through Annapolis, Maryland, and around the United States Naval Academy.
“Being here on this ride has been a real game-changer for me,” James said. “I had forgotten how it feels to connect with other service members. This ride reminded me how good it is to be around people who served too, and who know some of the same experiences I’ve had. These are people I can sound off with and talk about what’s happening in my life.”
This feeling was shared by another warrior on the ride, Laura Herbst-Agee, an Air Force veteran from York, Pennsylvania. She was one of three warriors from York, who came to Soldier Ride not sure what to expect.
“All I knew was that I wanted to end with more friends than when I got here,” Laura said. “I knew the ride itself was going to push me; the hills have been challenging, but I’ve been able to ride alongside my brothers and sisters, hearing the encouragement as we ride. The best part has been connecting with the other warriors. You get an instant brotherhood or sisterhood with these people you don’t know but have an instant connection with the moment you meet them. That’s because we’ve been through something similar – the same pain, emotional or physical or both. They get me right away and understand the challenges I face.”
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. Soldier Ride doesn’t just push warriors physically – it challenges them to come out of isolation and approach their roads to recovery as a team, side by side with their fellow wounded veterans.
“I’ve made some friends for life during Soldier Ride,” James said. “It turns out it’s a small world too – one of the guys from my unit at Fort Bragg was there, and he’s been over at Walter Reed. I’m definitely going to stay in contact with him. I was equally surprised by the people who came out to cheer us on. The American people really do appreciate us, and they’re so happy we served. It was really great to see that.”
To learn more about how WWP’s programs and services connect, serve, and empower wounded warriors, visit http://newsroom.woundedwarriorproject.org/. To find photos from this Soldier Ride, click on multimedia, then images.
Contact: Mattison Brooks – Public Relations Specialist
About Wounded Warrior Project
Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) connects, serves, and empowers wounded warriors. Read more at http://newsroom.woundedwarriorproject.org/about-us.