Injured veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan were honored yesterday by 300 bicyclists participating in the annual Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride in Greenport, Long Island. The annual charity event is also devoted to the memory of local hero Army Sergeant Lt. Joseph J. Theinert of Shelter Island who was killed in Afghanistan June 4, 2010.
The Wounded Warrior Project’s Soldier Ride was sponsored by GEICO, and began 8:30 am at Mitchell Park, 15 Front St., Greenport, finishing at t Greenport Skate Park, where a community picnic took place.
“The soldier ride is important because it gets veterans out of their hospital beds and into the fresh air,” noted organizer Nick Kraus. “We want to show them that the community is behind them. It can be an isolating experience coming back from being at war and being seriously injured and spending a lot of time in the hospital.”
“It gets lonely, especially when your only contact is your doctor or therapist,” added veteran Ty Campbell, 33, who suffered serve nerve damage and blew out a knee during an anti-terrorism helicopter mission while serving with the US Coast Guard in waters near Iraq.
“Yeah, its great that the community helps and supports us,” added 28-year old Stephen Siluwec who served in the army for five years before being thrown from a Humvee in 2004 after it drove over a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. Siluwec was nearly killed, and is now being treated three times a week for traumatic brain, back, hip and shoulder injuries.
The mission of Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) is to “honor and empower and raise awareness for the needs of injured service members, and help injured them through unique, direct programs and services to meet their individual circumstances. Readers looking to get involved and learn more can visit woundedwarriorproject.org.