CRAWFORD — Former President George W. Bush hosted 40 wounded warriors and their families at his Crawford Ranch on Friday and Saturday for the Warrior 100k bike ride.
The mountain bike ride, put on every two years through the hilly Central Texas terrain, is designed to help the mental well-being of those wounded in the War on Terror. The ride not only challenges the wounded warriors physically, but also helps bring back a sense of camaraderie many miss from their days on active duty in the military.
“It’s been awesome coming out here these last couple of days, just taking it all in,” said retired Army Maj. David Carrasco, who began his career as an enlisted soldier at Fort Hood and has a son currently stationed at Fort Hood with the 1st Cavalry Division as a logistics officer. “I think these types of programs are vital for us veterans. At times we don’t know how to ask for help. Just being around other veterans, and seeing the support that’s out here — it’s not post traumatic stress, it’s post traumatic growth.”
Carrasco deployed to Mogadishu, Somalia, then Bosnia, Hungary and Operation Iraqi Freedom before retiring. Hanging around fellow veterans who have been to many of the same places — and seen the same things — is reassuring, he said.
“They get it. That instant bond is there,” Carrasco said. “Then once you get on the bike, that little bit of competitiveness kicks in, but then we’re all here to get to the finish line.”
Mountain bike riding is just one of many activities veterans can do to help with issues such as post traumatic stress or traumatic brain injuries, he said. A fellow Army combat veteran introduced Carrasco to the sport as a method to help him with his own issues, he said.
“It’s just therapy, it’s peace of mind,” he said. “The next thing you know, you’re getting ready to stop (bike riding) and you’re like, ‘OK, I know there’s more to go. It’s really challenging.”
Bush hosts the ride to support the troops who were wounded during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq after the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the United States.
“I can’t think of a better way to spend Veterans Day weekend than with veterans,” the former president said prior to the ride beginning. “All of whom volunteered in the face of danger; all of whom are courageous individuals; all of whom we honor today.”
Bush said the ride was a “celebration of life” and that he and his wife, Laura, were honored to host the veterans at the event.
“I’m really looking forward to hanging out for the next couple of hours with people that I admire the most,” he said. “On behalf of a grateful nation, thank you for your outstanding service,” Bush said. “Let’s ride!”
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