A cycling group called Project Hero encourages rehabilitation for veterans by helping them get out and ride. Our contributor Tim Lenard attended a rally to learn more about what they do.
Last week, Project Hero rode from downtown Reno to the Evelyn Mount community center, where organizations gathered to offer services for local veterans. Lynette Knapp, a suicide behavior specialist for the VA, was there to raise awareness for the veterans crisis hotline.
“Yes, I have been privileged to speak with someone who is struggling, someone who has loaded a firearm and placed it in their lap, tossed it back and forth, put in back in the holder, took it out again,” she says. “And really it's not as much what you say, it's that you listen.”
Nevada used to have the highest veteran suicide rate in the nation. Now it's fifth. Knapp says outreach at events like last week’s ride are part of the effort to keep that number down.
April Wolfe helped found the Reno Chapter of Project Hero in 2013, after learning about it during a grueling 450 mile bike rally in California.
“I met a veteran that was on a recumbent three wheeled bike having other veterans help push him," Wolfe says. "I came back that following year and that veteran was now on an upright bike pushing other veterans that used to push him.”
This year, the Reno chapter was chosen by General Electric to be one of four in the nation to receive a $65,000 donation for specialized equipment.
If you are a veteran or know a veteran who needs help, visit www.veteranscrisisline.net or call 1-800-273-8255.