As part of a summer bike ride from Aberdeen, Wash., to the nation’s capital, five military veterans are scheduled to stop in Washington Sunday, Sept. 9.
The purpose of the ride is to raise money and awareness for other veterans in need of services while transitioning back to civilian life.
The 90-day bike ride, called the Long Road Home Project, will take the veterans through 12 states, pedaling more than 4,000 miles.
The veterans are raising money to fund the three-month journey and plan to donate additional funds raised to Operation First Response, a nonprofit that serves wounded heroes with personal and financial needs.
The five veterans riding include Steve Taylor, 59, retired U.S. Air Force, who served tours in the Noriega Conflict in Panama to both conflicts in Iraq. After an injury left him paralyzed in 2004, he spent many years in recovery. He is a hand cyclist.
Marie Tracy, U.S. Air Force, 27, has just returned from Afghanistan where she worked as a logistic adviser. She has served six years in the military. Tracy, a gay veteran, hopes to highlight the diversity of Americans serving in the military.
Glenn Fretz, retired U.S. Army, 41, served during Desert Storm, earning the Army Service Ribbon and the National Defense Service Medal. After an accident left him paralyzed in 1994, Fretz struggled to rebuild his life. With the support of his family he has participated in over 10 Wheelchair Games and also is a hand cyclist.
Ryan Creel, retired staff sergeant with the U.S. Army, 31, served as a combat photographer during Operations Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. After multiple deployments, he was diagnozed with chronic PTSD and medically retired from the Army after 13 years of servce. Since 2010, Creel has used cycling as a form of therapy and wants to inspire others with PTSD to overcome their challenges with exercise.
Colleen Bushnell, retired U.S. Army, 39, served in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. A victim of military sexual trauma, Bushnell experienced homelessness, PTSD and was suicidal. Today she is an advocate for all victims of assault and is riding to bring awareness of women in the military and single-parent veterans. She is a recipient of the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.
Team Red, White and Blue is the official sponsor of the Long Road Home Project.
During their overnight stop in Washington, the veterans will be staying with host families. A dinner and breakfast will be provided for them. The next morning the group will head out on the Katy Trail.