Recently, Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) teammates met with Harley-Davidson representatives to discuss plans and ideas for another year of collaboration and partnership, at the Harley-Davidson headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Besides an exchange of thoughts and ideas, there was also an exchange of gifts between the two organizations, celebrating a successful 2015. As a token of gratitude for their partnership with WWP, the Harley-Davidson team was presented with a picture frame of six WWP Alumni, along with quotes of gratitude from each of the injured veterans, some of which rode in the first ever Rolling Odyssey. The 48-hour, five-city tour incorporated 10 WWP Alumni, Harley-Davidson staff, and country music star Brantley Gilbert. Rolling Odyssey provides an opportunity for camaraderie, bonding, and therapy in a fun, highly unique way: by encouraging wounded veterans to share the open road and their love of motorcycles with their brothers and sisters without fear of judgment. The disconnection and sense of loss upon separation from the military can be jarring for wounded service members. Rolling Odyssey is particularly impactful since it provides a Peer Support setting: the open road gives combat veterans a unique environment to reconnect with those who understand their experiences firsthand.
"Getting the opportunity to be on the open road is very therapeutic and takes me to a good time in my life," read one quote. "Riding with fellow veterans is therapy for me in so many ways. Thanks for the best therapist in the world, Harley-Davidson," read another.
These quotes came from six veterans, diagnosed with PTSD, who were given motorcycles at a press conference at the WWP headquarters in 2014. They were hand-selected to receive them because, although they're experienced riders, they no longer had access to bikes due to various hardships. It's a gift that the six Alumni were extremely grateful for and one that made a lasting impression on WWP and its staff.
"I share the view of many of our Alumni who ride, that riding a motorcycle can be a very therapeutic experience," said John Roberts, WWP warrior relations executive vice president. "That gift from Harley-Davidson to our Alumni was priceless. In 2015, our organization was incredibly excited to see veterans in need get a chance to go out on the open road and ride their Harleys alongside Brantley in the inaugural Rolling Odyssey event. We're very excited to see what 2016 will hold for us, as we partner once again with Harley Davidson to honor and empower Wounded Warriors."
"Harley-Davidson has proudly supported the military for more than 100 years," said Christian Walters, U.S. managing director at Harley-Davidson. "Our alliance with Wounded Warrior Project builds on that legacy by supporting the men and women who have, and continue to, defend our country and our freedom. 2016 will hold its share of surprises, and we're very excited for the future of this amazing, all-American partnership."