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Step up for veterans after they come home

September 16, 2015
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

On these days of Buddy Poppies, I do feel thankful for the veterans I've come in contact with. My father put in his 20 years, serving in Guam in the late '50s, coming back to Finland, Minn., and finally becoming a weekend warrior and retiring with the Air National Guard. Three of his uncles are buried in soldier's circle, veterans of World War II. I had a great-grandfather in the World War I infantry in the French theater and my brother served active duty in the Army.

I have a number of high school classmates from back in Sioux City who served. My friend, Tim, has accompanied service members on honor flights to see the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC.

I'm finishing my thesis for graduate school, for a Master of Arts in Journalism I've taken online. It's harder to get to know online classmates, but we've managed to form friendships. One of these is with Brent Whitney, a veteran who is reporting on veterans with PTSD along with his reviews of adventure cycling stars and places.

At, he tells stories of Paws and Stripes, an organization that takes shelter dogs and trains them to be service animals to veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

An organization called Rides for Warriors is a group of motorcyclists that raises awareness and organizes rides in which the riders pay to participate in order to raise funds for charities that help veterans with PTSD.

Whitney also reports on the rising popularity of mototherapy riding motorcycles for self-help and stress relief. Riding a motorcycle releases endorphins. This provides a mood booster and improves the rider's outlook.

According to RAND Corporation, almost 20% of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD and 8% of Americans have PTSD at any given time.

Men and women in uniform charge into the world's darkest places to carry out orders and fight in wars. When they return, they find private individuals and groups who have seen their need and charged in to help alleviate their burden of PTSD with funding, therapy dogs, mototherapy, and similar services.



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