Military Veterans Finish 4,200 Mile Bike Trek in the Nation's Capital

Map of the Long Road Home route.

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Oct. 14, 2012 -- Today, five U.S. military veterans will ride the last leg of the Long Road Home Project (LRH), a bicycle journey across the United States designed to help them heal from the wounds of war while raising awareness of the tremendous challenges facing veterans as they return home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The 4,200-mile journey, which began on July 15 in Aberdeen, Wash., will come to a dramatic close as the riders take to the road one last time on Sunday, October 14. They will ride from the Thomas Jefferson Memorial to the District Architecture Center in D.C. for a reception in their honor, hosted by the American Academy of Physician Assistants.

PAs provide healthcare for service members and their families at home and abroad. Veterans often return home to face new battles with injuries, both visible and invisible. More than 1,700 PAs provide care to these former service members within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Thousands of other PAs practice medicine at U.S. military installations.  A PA helped cyclist Glenn Isaac Fretz (U.S. Army, retired) regain the use of his hands after they were severely injured in a battle with the Iraqi Republican Guard during Operation Desert Storm.

"He never gave up on me," said Fretz. "He went into surgery with me. He didn't have to go into surgery with me; he did it because he cared. He told me to pay it forward, and I've tried to do that ever since."

The LRH cyclists also include Marie Tracy (U.S. Air Force), Ryan Creel, (U.S. Army, retired), Colleen Bushnell (U.S. Air Force, retired) and Steve Taylor (U.S. Army, retired). Each has experienced tremendous personal challenges related to his or her military service, including homelessness, PTSD and long-term injuries. The team was led by Casey Miller, a civilian with a deep concern for veterans.