Five veterans are about to embark on a cross-country bicycle journey starting Sunday in Ocean Shores. They each have their own stories and their own goals for the ride, from raising awareness about sexual assault to therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder, but they’re all together to help serve other veterans.
They plan to pass through Aberdeen at 3 p.m. for a barbecue and raffle at American Legion Post 5, 112 W. 1st St. Suggested donation for that is $10 and the public is invited.
It’s called The Long Road Home Project, and it was started by a civilian on his own attempt at self-discovery in 2001. Casey Miller realized it could be a good tool for helping soldiers returning home make the transition.
Veterans have a variety of challenges to face when they come home, and they don’t always have the support they need when they get there. The Department of Veteran’s Affairs estimates 20 percent of all suicides nationwide are veterans.
A film crew will follow the riders to share their stories. They include:
Steve Taylor, a 59-year-old Air Force vet who was drafted during Vietnam and served for 26 years. An injury in 2004 left him partially paralyzed, and he will ride a hand-cycle on the trip. Glenn Isaac Fretz, 41, is the other hand-cyclist of the group. He’s a decorated Army vet who served in Desert Storm and was paralyzed in an accident in 1994. They hope to raise awareness for injured vets, a press release for the event said.
Marie Tracy, an openly gay 27-year-old serving in the Air Force, hopes to highlight diversity in the armed forces. Ryan Creel, 31, was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after multiple combat deployments in the Army. He went into medical retirement after 13 years of service, and rides as part of his therapy, hoping to encourage others with PTSD to work through their challenges through exercise and camaraderie. Colleen Bushnell, 39, served in the Air Force in Iraq and Afghanistan. She was a victim of sexual assault in the military, and suffered from PTSD and homelessness. She rides to bring awareness to women and single parents in the military.
To track the riders in real time and see a detailed schedule, visit longroadhomeproject.com/#route.