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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Flagstaff, AZ
    Posts
    251

    wounded warriors

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    Their young faces and energetic voices belie the catastrophic wounds they carry.

    The half-dozen young men talk about the grueling 4,200-mile cross-country bicycle ride they've started, how they've muscled the treacherous Baker Grade between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and how their next leg will take them to Colorado.

    They pedal and pump all in the name of the wounded warriors they've become and those they want to help.

    For Heath Calhoun, a 25-year-old Army veteran of the Iraq war, the journey is as much about recovery as it is about the mission -- raising awareness and money for wounded military men and women returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

    Calhoun rides in a specially fitted bicycle he pedals with his hands. He lost both legs above the knee in 2003 after a rocket-propelled grenade hit the truck he was riding in.

    "I've been home for almost two years," said Calhoun, a Tennessee native. "Sometimes I feel like I'm fully recovered, but other times I feel like every day is part of my recovery. This ride is going to help a lot. It's building my upper body and is making me stronger every day."

    The Soldier Ride is a fund-raiser for the Wounded Warrior Project. The project aims to boost the morale of U.S. military personnel who have suffered catastrophic injuries, help them with medical expenses, and provide transportation and lodging for family members who want to be with them while they recover at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center near Bethesda, Md.

    Ryan Kelly, 24, was in the Army Reserves when he was deployed to Iraq. He was on his way to a conference on rebuilding the country's schools and hospitals when his convoy was ambushed. An explosive device destroyed his right leg.

    "In doing this ride, we're trying to help our buddies get the benefits in care and opportunity like we had," said Kelly, a Virginia native.

    Chris Carney, who made the first cross-country ride for the cause last year, said he became involved in the Wounded Warrior Project after meeting its founder, John Melia, at Walter Reed. Carney said he has never been in the military but wanted to do something to show his appreciation to the veterans who literally had given so much of themselves for this nation's security.

    Carney, 35, said that while visiting the medical center, he learned that the military pays only for one relative to visit the injured soldier for one week every six months.

    "We don't think that's enough of a support system for a kid who just lost a leg," Carney said.

    The money raised also pays for care packages that include comfort items such as phone cards and T-shirts and shorts so that the injured soldiers don't have to be in hospital gowns during their entire stay.

    The group hopes to raise $5 million.

    Carney said that during his ride last year, wounded soldiers started joining him and encouraged him to do the ride again.

    "For a lot of these guys, this is the first time they're doing anything physical after being in the hospital," Carney said. "It's the first time they get out and sweat and be guys again."

    The wounded warriors started this year's long ride Saturday in Los Angeles and arrived in Las Vegas on Wednesday night. The group met with Mayor Oscar Goodman during his Thursday news conference.

    Goodman lauded their efforts, calling them the men "who put themselves in harm's way and were harmed."

    Melia, a Marine who suffered severe burns in a midair helicopter explosion over Somalia in 1992, started the Wounded Warrior Project after seeing images on TV of injured soldiers returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

    "There are still more and more coming," he said. "And when they're home, they still need the support of the American people. They need to know they're appreciated."

    For more information about the Soldier Ride, to join the ride or to make a donation, log onto www.soldierride.com, or call 1-866-743-3441.
    The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart. ~Iris Murdoch, The Red and the Green

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    North Texas
    Posts
    1,565
    Though I am not a supporter of this war from the administrative view, I wholeheartedly support our troops, and their right to full benefits for the tasks they perform and the horrific events they suffer through.

    This is a wristband I will proudly add to my collection. Off to make the $50 donation to the cause.

    If these folks pass through your area, please ride with them... bring them cookies... holler out a few yee-hah's to them.

    spazz
    no regrets!

    My ride: 2003 Specialized Allez Comp - zebra (men's 52cm), Speedplay X5 pedals, Koobi Au Enduro saddle

    Spazzdog Ink Gallery
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Mrs. KnottedYet
    Posts
    9,056

    they're riding your way....

    here's the rest of their route....

    Denver, CO 6/12/2005
    Kansas City, MO - Kansas City Royals Pregame show 6/19/2005
    St. Louis, MO 6/24/2005
    Chicago, IL 6/30/2005
    Cleveland, OH - Crocker Park Celebration 7/4/2005
    Pittsburgh, PA - Pittsburgh Pirates Pregame show 7/7/2005
    Washington, DC 7/10/2005
    Baltimore, MD 7/11/2005
    Philadelphia, PA 7/14/2005
    New York, NY - NY Mets Pregame show 7/17/2005
    Montauk, NY - Ride Finish 7/19/2005
    Fancy Schmancy Custom Road bike ~ Mondonico Futura Legero
    Found on side of the road bike ~ Motobecane Mixte
    Gravel bike ~ Salsa Vaya
    Favorite bike ~ Soma Buena Vista mixte
    N+1 bike ~ Brompton
    https://www.instagram.com/pugsley_adventuredog/

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Charlotte, NC
    Posts
    508
    I'm with you spazz. I wholeheartedly support the troops. But I am completely against the war. It drives me nuts that certain political groups take anti war to mean anti troops an anti american. I'm just against war. We wouldn't have so many wounded, not to mention dead, soldiers (sons, brothers, husbands, and fathers) if we hadn't started the Iraq war.

    One idea for world peace. Um, don't start a war.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Flagstaff, AZ
    Posts
    251
    I agree; one step I took is to volunteer (with a cycling friend) on the GI Rights hotline; some of these kids have no idea what they have gotten themselves into when they agree to get into the grasp of the military; when I think that I first learned to do draft counseling back in--oh--1975, it can be discouraging, but then I am encouraged by the bravery of those who resist.
    The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart. ~Iris Murdoch, The Red and the Green

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    North Texas
    Posts
    1,565
    Don't get me wrong... I believe that the military is a necessity in any country. But I believe that all should serve in some capacity.

    I believe the Isreali model is the best. Upon graduating secondary school, every one does a hitch in the military... male, female, rich or poor... it doesn't matter. The kids learn things (discipline, responsibility, get great educational starts), the military has the people power to function. Some kids decide to stay in, something they might not have done without the experience.

    Yes, the war part is the ugly part. Unfortunately this is a planet of war... it always has been and it probably always will be. As long as one part of the world has something the other part wants or feels superior to some other people, there will be war or rebellion or name that violence.

    That's not to say I think its right, just that it IS. What one hopes is that the powers that be in a country recognize the effects of war beyond their own desire for power or legacy... that they don't send our troops off on a pissin' contest such as the one we are in now and ill equipped to fight. I've heard Iraq referred to as this generations Viet Nam. The longer it goes on, and the more I read or hear, the more I'm inclined to agree.

    I always will support our troops. But not necessarily their "commander in chief".

    spazz, stepping off her soapbox
    no regrets!

    My ride: 2003 Specialized Allez Comp - zebra (men's 52cm), Speedplay X5 pedals, Koobi Au Enduro saddle

    Spazzdog Ink Gallery
    http://www.printroom.com/pro/gratcliff

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Flagstaff, AZ
    Posts
    251
    Well, Spazz, I wish I could believe it was that simple; personally, I think congress is getting ready for a draft, and that they are running the women in combat thing up the flagpole because they might include women inthe draft this time.
    The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart. ~Iris Murdoch, The Red and the Green

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Sweetwater, Texas
    Posts
    171

    Unhappy

    You guys have no idea how fearful I am that my son will be going over there. If we can get him graduated from high school, which is just a struggle, (he will be a junior next year, and he wants to get his GED and join the Army) I feel we will have accomplished something. We have him at New Mexico Military Institute in hopes that he will either get into WestPoint, Texas A&M, or two years at NMMI's junior college. Our goal is that if he is going to join the Army then go as an officer....but being a kid, and being awestruck by a couple of retired special forces guys who work at NMMI he is ready now. At least at NMMI he's learning to be a leader.

    I swear that kid came out of my womb and popped a salute! Seriously though, I go through just absolute moments of depression, sinking fear, I feel like puking, and I guess it is to help keep my sanity, but I simply cannot watch TV right now, or at least the news, nor can I read about Iraq in the paper. It makes me sick at my stomach that I could lose my son, who, I think absolutely hung the moon. Yet, I cannot tell him he can't do something. I CAN do my best to keep him in school and hopefully college. Right now my biggest prayer is that all of this will be over before he graduates.....

    ....and you know writing this, I see how selfish I am. I am only thinking of myself and my son and our little family...but that is how it is for me at the moment.

    I have somewhat of an idea what mothers must have felt when there was draft who had teenage boys. I don't even have to consider the draft, he's hell bent on going regardless.
    Ever notice that 'what the hell' always seems to be the best decision?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    North Texas
    Posts
    1,565
    I understand KKAllez... as much as a non-parent can at least.

    My roomies best friend is abt to graduate from Mass Maritime... and is automatically a reservist. He also got his degree in nuclear engineering and scored a job in the private sector. I expect he'll be called up pretty quick.

    His mom won't even talk about it.

    The logical discussion of the kid going to military school, thus into the military (as is his choice) carries no import. Perhaps it's the "he'll always be my baby" maternal pull... understandable. But, when a young person attends military school they are well aware of what's to come, unlike a public/private school kid.

    I wish your son the best in whatever path he takes... and I hope you will never regret his honorable service or yours for that matter.

    spazz
    no regrets!

    My ride: 2003 Specialized Allez Comp - zebra (men's 52cm), Speedplay X5 pedals, Koobi Au Enduro saddle

    Spazzdog Ink Gallery
    http://www.printroom.com/pro/gratcliff

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Mrs. KnottedYet
    Posts
    9,056
    Two wounded warrior riders are setting out. One cross country east to west, other is west to east (I wonder if they will meet up?).

    Let's support them

    http://www.bikingbis.com/blog/_archi...9/2867899.html
    Fancy Schmancy Custom Road bike ~ Mondonico Futura Legero
    Found on side of the road bike ~ Motobecane Mixte
    Gravel bike ~ Salsa Vaya
    Favorite bike ~ Soma Buena Vista mixte
    N+1 bike ~ Brompton
    https://www.instagram.com/pugsley_adventuredog/

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    I'm the only one allowed to whine
    Posts
    10,557
    I love the idea of this ride, and the cause that they are raising money for.

    But my first thought is: why isn't the money coming from the government? Think of all the money that got "misplaced" in Iraq, and no-one can account for it. Just a little bit of that would buy these folks t-shirts and shorts to wear in the hospital, for goodness sakes.

    We pay taxes (happy tax day, everyone!). Why isn't more of our tax money going to help these folks who got wounded FOR US? Bringing them back should be just as important on the ledger sheets as sending them over.

    We should be just as responsible for their recovery as we are for sending them there in the first place.

    I have family in the military and I work in healthcare; so I am biased. But I am utterly shocked at how our Wounded Warriors are just spat out by the system.

    (I won't argue the politics, but I will argue the right to medical care, counseling, disability payments, etc. for the returning wounded.)
    "If Americans want to live the American Dream, they should go to Denmark." - Richard Wilkinson

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
    Posts
    13,394
    I have been anti war all of my life. I was out on the Boston Common in 1968 when I was 15, protesting. I got thrown out of school in Florida when i wore an anti war pin to high school. I dislike the prez intensely.
    That said, I have a son in the Marines. He had every advantage in the world. He did not have to enlist. He went to a prestigious "public prep" school in suburban Boston and was accepted at 6 colleges. He was a Cat 3 racer at age 16 and the #5 junior racer in the US for 2 years. He started college as a sophomore because he had so many AP credits. Guess what, after a year at U of AZ, he came home and enlisted. Drove that new car right down to Waltham and did it without telling us! He had been in ROTC at college and we had finally accepted that, but it wasn't enough.
    It's been 3 years and he is still the same wonderful person he has always been. He didn't join for political reasons (he swears he's the only Jewish Democrat in the Marines). He wanted to do something "hard" and he loves the risk. He has done some interesting stuff in a special unit, but now he is back to the regular stuff and will be going to Iraq in September. He's probably going to re enlist and has been interviewing to get into the intelligence unit. There was absolutely nothing we could have done to stop him. He was born to this.... no matter what alternatives we presented, it was not enough.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Mrs. KnottedYet
    Posts
    9,056

    I'm as anti-war and anti violence as they come .....

    ...and I agree with Knott.

    However you feel about this or any war we owe a debt as a country to those who serve in our military. We still benefit today from that "best generation" and the GI Bill, a whole generation of college educated vets whoo hoo!!

    America then it seems made a pledge that if you served we owe ya'.

    We understood then that an investment in our veterans care and education would yield down the road.

    When did this become a burden to us?

    How could this be a burden?

    We sent them there, we need to make our returning veterans whole and the families of those who do not return.

    It's part of the healing process and it's essential as a society that we hold our end of the bargain to our men and women who serve.

    "you protected us, we'll protect you".
    Last edited by Trek420; 04-22-2007 at 05:24 PM.
    Fancy Schmancy Custom Road bike ~ Mondonico Futura Legero
    Found on side of the road bike ~ Motobecane Mixte
    Gravel bike ~ Salsa Vaya
    Favorite bike ~ Soma Buena Vista mixte
    N+1 bike ~ Brompton
    https://www.instagram.com/pugsley_adventuredog/

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    392
    Amen, and as a Proud military spouse, thank you for posting such a GREAT inspirational message!
    God Bless
    Jenn

 

 

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