Ride to Zero thunders through town to raise veteran suicide awareness
SPRINGVILLE – About 20 veterans a day in the United States commit suicide, according to the Department of Veteran Affairs.More than half – 65 percent – are 50 or older, predating the current war in the Middle East.
More than half – 65 percent – are 50 or older, predating the current war in the Middle East.
“We’re trying to raise awareness,” Howard Drury told Serve Daily. Drury is spokesman for the Utah chapter 49-1 of the Combat Vets Motorcycle Association. “We’re trying to raise $30,000 with this event.”
The Combat Vets group, which is not a motorcycle club – it’s a support organization for veterans – gathered about 300 motorcycles at Legends Motorcycle in Springville Saturday, Aug. 26, for the kickoff of the third annual Ride to Zero, which in previous years started from a park in Riverton, Utah.
“Rick Salisbury, the owner of Legends Motorcycle, invited us,” Drury said. The spacious paved parking lot in front of Legends was filled by mid-morning with leather-clad motorcyclists and their
bikes, which kept increasing in number as the clock tick-tocked to the 2 p.m. presentation of The Colors – achieved with military precision – and opening remarks.
Preliminaries done, the motorcyclists, led by “John Wayne,” commander of the Utah Chapter 49-1 Combat Vets Motorcycle Associations, made a two-hour swoop around Utah Lake, ending at Leatherheads sports bar in Draper for a 6 p.m. concert headlined by American Hit Band.
The $34,000 raised – exceeding the goal of $30,000 – is to help the National Center for Veterans Studies fund its research into the effects of what so far appears to be unprecedented success in treating the PTSD that is a forerunner to suicide, Drury said.
PTSD – post-traumatic stress disorder – includes four types of symptoms: reliving the event; avoiding situations that remind you of the event; negative changes in beliefs and feelings; and feeling keyed up, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA suggests “you should seek help” if the symptoms last longer than three months, if they cause you great stress or if they disrupt your work or home life, according to the website.ptsd.va.gov.
“The chapter commander and the XO both had lost fellow members to suicide,” Drury said. “This is personal for them. They talked with Dr. [Craig] Bryan, director of the National Center for Veterans Studies, and he told them he’s trying to get the DOD [Department of Defense] to pick up the cost of the research.
“We feel what Dr. Bryan is trying to do is important,” Drury continued. “It’s work that needs to be done.”
The National Center for Veterans Studies developed in 2010 at the University of Utah as a result of a conversation in the Social Sciences department, Bryan told Serve Daily. The core of four people has now grown to nearly 30 student volunteer researchers.
“We have developed the only intervention proven to prevent suicide in the military, up to 76 percent,” Bryan said. “We’ve tested new ways to make it [intervention] faster, better.
“In the last year, 50 service members and veterans have gone through this,” the psychologist and researcher said. “We’ve shown that with this intervention, we can cure PTSD in two weeks.”
A cure is determined by a researcher interviewing the PTSD research participant beforehand, and, following the twoweek treatment, an outgoing interview conducted by an independent assessor.
The donations and registration fees for the Ride to Zero will help fund the next stage of the research, Bryan said. Additional donations would help, the psychologist/researcher added.
Active military and veterans dealing with PTSD are invited to become research participants. There is no cost except that of getting to and from Park City, where the intervention takes place.
“We don’t want any veteran to have to pay,” said Dianna Herrmann, Bryan’s executive assistant. “They’ve already paid with their service to the country.”
For more information email NCVS@ Utah.Edu or call Dr. Bryan’s office at 801.587.7978.
Members of the Combat Vets Group salute at the Ride to Zero rally. Photo: Steve Parsons
At least 300 motorcycles participated in the Aug. 26 Ride to Zero that was staged at Legends Motorcycles.