WHAT WE DO
Wheels4Change uses fitness to connect with veterans and raise community awareness about the change’s veterans face, as well as increases community awareness of these that have made the supreme sacrifices. We connect with veterans who may be unable, unwilling or simply unsure how to use traditional support services, which are not always available when needed.
Via our “give back” program, which allows transitional and emergent veterans to earn a bicycle and other fitness-oriented opportunities through service work, we are able to communicate with them regularly, assess their needs and address those needs on a one-to-one basis. Veterans say it’s a natural, non-judgmental environment in which to create a new life at a comfortable pace. In short, we let the veteran lead us, to show us what he or she needs to move forward into a more productive life.
We’ve successfully supported previously homeless veterans to run and bike in distance races (including marathons), eat healthfully, support in finding meaningful employment, attend college and learn more effective life skills.
The bicycles they earn through service are used as transportation for such essentials as job hunting and grocery shopping, as well as for relaxation and fitness.
If the veteran is interested in furthering his or her education, we can help link with community partners, the possibilities – from vocational training to traditional four-year colleges. We help link with community resources that will step-by-step support to the veteran who needs or wants additional education to build a self-sufficient life.
A vital part of our mission is to honor the heroes who have fallen in battle while raising awareness of the difficulties faced by veterans when they return to civilian life.
Until the Vietnam War, the psychological effects of military life such as depression, substance abuse, panic attacks and flashbacks were known as “shell shock” – a syndrome thought to fade naturally in time.
Thankfully, today we understand much more about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, and its devastating (and sometimes fatal) consequences if left untreated
In one federal study, one in four veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan reported symptoms of a mental or cognitive disorder; one in six reported symptoms of PTSD. These disorders are strongly associated with substance abuse and dependence, as are other problems experienced by returning military personnel, including sleep disturbances, traumatic brain injury, and violence in relationships.One truly astounding number is this: 22 veterans and one active duty personnel commit suicide each day in this country. Recently, the DOD release current research that states the number has decreased to 20 suicides per day. More veterans have committed suicide since returning home from duty in the Middle East than have been killed in combat there since 9/11. We believe though meaningful outreach and heightens public awareness of the epidemic of military-related suicides and we will reduce the rates of veterans in danger of harming themselves.