In other blog posts, I have mentioned that I was a commercial truck driver on our nation’s highways for well over a million miles. Living in my semi, always on the move, was so very comfortable for me. It allowed me to stay in my comfort zone of isolation and withdrawal while still being a productive member of society.
I’m planning to hit the road in a completely different way in fifteen weeks.
The bicycle trip I will take in the spring of 2012 is important to me for many reasons. The first reason is that I will be raising awareness about service-related PTSD and trying to help other veterans find the resources needed to start the recovery process. Secondly, I will finally get to travel the famous Route 66 in its entirety for a major portion of my route across America. Thirdly, and this one is a favorite of mine, my son Parry has asked me if he can accompany me on this journey. I would be so honored to have him by my side as we cross this great country. You’ll not that none of these reasons has anything to do with isolation and withdrawal.
Planning this trip has been very enjoyable. I’ve been making lists. Some of the items on list of things to leave at home are
- My comfort zones
- “Yeah, but”
- Preconceived notions
- Self doubts
The most important items to bring with us are our spirit of adventure, determination, and wonder — and plenty of film. I think traveling the famous Route 66, aka the “mother road” with my son and my PTSD service dog, Scrubs, will be an incredible journey. Fifteen weeks from now, we will head out of San Diego up Highway 101 to the start of the mother road. I will share my presentation called “What Comes after Welcome Home” along the way.
This past Wednesday, I made a bee-line for Eau Claire, Wisconsin. That morning, I gave a presentation in Pasadena, California, on the campus of Fuller Theological Seminary. Fuller, with its satellite campuses, is the largest seminary in North America. I spoke to a group called ”Care4Veterans,” which is an organization which seeks to inform churches about the issues that affect veterans and their families. One of the members attending the meeting was Dr. Harold Martin, an Adjunct Professor at Pasadena City College in the area of Social Sciences. A veteran himself, Dr. Martin works closely with student veterans at Pasadena City College. My host and good friend, Reverend Albert Cohen, who invited me to speak on this day, was the man who encouraged and motivated me to present my story back in July of 2011 and who was the reason I came up with “What Comes after Welcome Home.”
By 2:30 Wednesday afternoon, I was back in my Jeep heading for Wisconsin. I arrived in Eau Claire, Wisconsin on Friday night. I love to drive, and the 2100 mile trip felt like the good old days back on the road once again. I was in my comfort zone, all alone. Rev. Jeanny House is a good friend who is pastor of Peace United Church of Christ in Fall Creek, Wisconsin, near Eau Claire. She arranged for me to do my presentation at her church on Monday night, November 7. On Tuesday morning, I will head west on Route 66 out of the windy city, Chicago. I plan to stop along the way to talk to sponsors and introduce myself to different churches and organizations with whom I would like to share my story on our bicycle ride from San Diego to Vermont in the spring.
I feel it would be so easy but selfish to just keep hiding from the past and try to keep my PTSD symptoms to myself. PTSD tirelessly kills 18 veterans every day of the year. If you do the math, that is 6,570 loved ones a year. The number of veterans and their family members and friends who are battling with the symptoms of PTSD is overwhelming. I made a promise to myself in honor of my children that I will not take the easy road and continue to hide from the past. Instead, I will step out of my comfort zone of hiding in plain sight and try to raise awareness in hopes that other veterans and their family members can benefit from the resources and information that I have collected.
If you would like to help with sponsoring us on our journey or have other resources we can share along the way, please contact us. Together as concerned citizens, communities, and a country, we can do what we cannot do alone. Stand and join us, help our brave and deserving veterans in recovery from this hungry family-destroying parasite called PTSD. Take the big step out of the comfort zone with us.