Wounded Warriors + Motorcycles = Healing Trauma on the Open Road

Richie "Two Chairs" and "Lord" Freddie ride in style on the 2018 Veterans Charity Ride (photo courtesy of Sara Liberte www.saraliberte.com).

Eighteen wounded warriors recently took a quest across 1600 miles of gorgeous backroads on Indian motorcycles with the Veterans Charity Ride to Sturgis. It’s called “motorcycle therapy,” and it’s an unconventional yet novel way to get wounded veterans out and about with other veterans to heal their war trauma.

If you ask Dave Frey, founder of the Veterans Charity Ride, why motorcycle therapy works, he says simply, “We get these guys and women out of the house on some powerful V-Twin’s and the open road works its magic.”

There are numerous credible studies that prove recreational therapy helps veterans suffering from PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, and other injuries, and the anecdotal evidence is equally compelling.

Eric Morante, Marine Corps veteran, and amputee boxer says that this trip helped him get out of his comfort zone and connect with other veterans.

Eric Morante, Marine Corps veteran and amputee boxer, shares his experiences on the Veterans Charity Ride.

Dave Frey and his wife Sue have expanded their program to include year-round support services for the veterans that join them on the ride. Some of the veterans are asked to come back the following year to be veteran mentors or support crew.

“Our programs are set up and developed to be an ongoing lifelong support system that has something to offer and help just about any veteran whether they have been on the Sturgis ride or not,” says Frey. “Our MC/Recreational therapy, WellVet, VetFam, and MotoDono are in place and we will be delivering those in the next couple of months and expanding them to reach more veterans in 2019.”

Frey says the WellVet program is a nutritional program that helps them make healthier choices, while the VetFam gives previous veteran riders and mentors the opportunity to take their family on an all-expense paid four-day retreat at Red Cliffs Lodge in Moab, UT. This retreat provides an opportunity for the veterans to share their wins, breakthroughs and peace of mind they received and experienced during the ride and program with their families. The MotoDono program is a motorcycle donation program. Industry Partners and the general public donate new and used motorcycles and ATVs to VCR and receive a tax deduction. VCR refurbishes and modifies (when needed) the motorcycles/atvs and gifts them to deserving veterans.

Two veterans share their experiences about the Veterans Charity Ride and their transition out of the military.

The Veterans Charity Ride, now in its 4th year, is garnering attention not only in the motorcycle community but also the wider racing community as a way to support veterans.

“The military’s time-honored ethos is to never leave one of its own on the battlefield. The valor exhibited by service members both at home and in combat abroad creates a duty for every American to proclaim that same principle – to honor and care for our veterans,” says Judd Hollifield, CEO of Rinehart Racing. “The Veterans Charity Ride is one small opportunity where we can be instrumental in honoring and helping veterans.”

Steve Menetto, President of Indian Motorcycles, shares why the Veterans Charity Ride is important to Indian Motorcycle.

On the way to Sturgis, locals came out to show their pride and respect for those on the ride. Entire towns came out to welcome the veterans, treat them to lunch, and celebrate their service to this country.

“It’s our honor to host and celebrate these heroes,” says Emily S. Niehaus, Mayor of Moab. “We’re proud to host the Veterans Charity Ride and give thanks for the sacrifices these veterans have made and continue to make for all of us.”

The veterans also enjoyed off-road adventures with off-road motorsports legend Casey Currie, zip-lining, river rafting on the Colorado River, horseback riding, and many other activities.

“The ride is spectacular and the other veterans, our shared community, is really what this is all about,” says Keith Helfrich, a veteran mentor, and Army special forces veteran. “We’re all in it together, and this ride creates lifelong bonds and friendships.”

To find out more about the Veterans Charity Ride, visit http://veteranscharityride.org/

-- Sean Mclain Brown can be reached at sean.brown@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @seanmclainbrown

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