For many warriors, the experiences they had in the military were some of the best of their lives, filled with fellowship, meaning, and direction. To help wounded veterans connect with others who have shared military backgrounds, Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) partnered with the A.D. Farrow Harley-Davidson dealership for motorcycle riding lessons.
“It felt great to be with other warriors like myself once again,” said Marine Corps veteranLawrence Christian. “I could relax and enjoy myself because the people there weren’t going to judge me for my injuries. The Harley team treated us like royalty, and it was an excellent experience.”
Activities that get injured warriors socializing again can help them cope with stress and depression. In a WWP survey of the wounded veterans it serves, nearly 47 percent say talking with other warriors boosts their ability to manage their mental health. These outings can lead to new friendships, provide a renewed sense of community, and get warriors to challenge themselves.
“I realized that you just have to be patient, and don’t be afraid to ask the right questions to those who could help,” Lawrence said. “Healing comes from being resilient, patient, and honest with yourself. Get out there and do something you have never done before; prove to yourself that you can live again.”
Warriors learned about various Harley-Davidson motorcycles and equipment over two days, and their instructors gave them endorsements, which allow each of them to apply for a permanent motorcycle license without taking the state exam. Plus, the course included the potential for cheaper insurance premiums and the chance to score discounts on Harley-Davidson products.
“The instruction was very personalized, so all of us got tips on what we needed to work on,” Lawrence explained. “Most importantly, it helped me prove to myself that I could accomplish anything I want if I apply myself. Learning to ride a motorcycle is something I have always wanted to do, but either I never had the money, time, or confidence to learn. Wounded Warrior Project and Harley-Davidson gave me that chance.”
All WWP program resources and outreach gatherings are offered to wounded warriors, their caregivers, and family members free of charge, thanks to the generosity of donors. In time, wounded veterans who once needed support have the chance to pay it forward and become a mentor who supports others through the Peer Support program.
“Give yourself a break from thinking about all the bad stuff, and network with others you can help – or who can help you,” Lawrence said. “WWP is a great source for making connections and finding resources. I proved to myself I could do something different. Because I got out of the house, I found an experience that I love, spent time outdoors, and stopped feeling sorry for myself.”