MIAMI.- To the applause of the public and the military salute of the local police, an adaptive cycling race began on January 4 in Miami Beach. Soldier’s tripfrom Project “Wounded Warrior”. 40 veterans rode 9 miles from Finnegan’s Way in South Beach to London Depot Park, accompanied by numerous police officers on bicycles, motorcycles and patrol cars.
The race that takes place in Miami And Key Westis South Florida’s way of showing appreciation to these veterans, as well as current patients at Walter Reed Medical Center.
Two decades of support for veterans
It’s been 20 years since a cyclist rode 5,000 miles from coast to coast to honor the sacrifices of wounded veterans after 9/11. This is how it was born Soldier’s trip.
The Wounded Warrior Project’s Soldier Ride is a unique, multi-day cycling event to support our nation’s warriors who need a community hug. This race is one of the most effective programs of the organization as it gives them the opportunity to share and exercise the body and mind.
Veterans who suffer in silence have the opportunity here to create healthy social connections, which reduces stress and depression and also helps reduce the risk of suicide. In the same way, they advance together, just like during military service, as a team.
James Herrerain charge of the physical health and well-being program of WWP, told DIARIO LAS AMÉRICAS that “it is important to improve the social connections of our veterans; many of them suffer in silence. “A Soldier’s Ride” brings them together as siblings, just as they did during their service. It reduces symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress. It’s really important for them to get out and create camaraderie.”
Herrera, a former Olympic coach for the U.S. cycling team and a master’s degree in exercise physiology from the University of Texas at El Paso, added, “We truly believe that physical well-being is a very important part of a veteran’s training experience.” “Our programs focus on mental health, physical health, social wellness as well as financial wellness. We want to take this holistic approach.”
“Every day I remember that I love what I do. When a veteran comes in and says they have improved their physical health by cycling or playing sports, I am very happy with what the organization is doing,” said Herrera, who only celebrates his ninth year with WWP on Jan. 4.
He added, “I met a veteran who told me she lost 200 pounds riding a bike and feels like a completely different person.”
For his part, the veteran Jose Orlando de Leon Diaz He said he met WWP a few months ago: “I haven’t spoken to any veterans in years. I joined the American Legion and started meeting people who had other types of communities like this.”
Regarding the benefits of being associated with WWP, De Leon, who served for about 5 years and even had a mission in Afghanistan, emphasized that “it’s something different, it’s such a big impact that I don’t know how to explain it, you have to live this.”
Learn more about the Wounded Warrior Project
Soldier Ride allows the community to honor veterans by riding bikes on local streets.
WWP’s 2022 survey of veterans enrolled with the organization provided important data about this community.
- They feel isolated: 78%
- Consider themselves obese or severely obese: 51.9%
- They have poor sleep quality: 90.3%
The same survey found that after participating in WWP Soldier Ride events, 93% of veterans said they felt more confident. Veterans who keep in touch with military friends are 57% less likely to suffer from symptoms such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) began in 2003 as a small community initiative to provide simple items of care and comfort to the hospital beds of the first wounded military personnel returning home from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As their post-service needs evolved, so did the programs and services. Today, through direct mental health programs, professional counseling and long-term rehabilitative care, and advocacy efforts, WWP improves the lives of millions of veterans and their families.
Since 2003, the organization has assisted more than 200,000 9/11 veterans and their families, providing more than $2 billion in services. Its direct programs have delivered more than 1.8 million interventions, including connection, mental health and wellness, physical health, financial wellness assistance, and long-term support for the seriously injured.
WWP is committed to ensuring that when those who serve return home, they have every opportunity to be as successful as civilians as they were in the military.