Motorcyclists riding across Canada to raise funds and erase the stigma around post-traumatic stress disorder pulled into Victoria Wednesday night after a 17-day journey.
The non-profit Military Minds Inc. national motorcycle fundraiser — called the Rolling Barrage — supports active and retired military and first responders with PTSD and occupational stress injury, said president Scott Casey.
The coast-to-coast ride has raised $26,000 to date, with more expected to come in, he said. “It was a complete success.”
Casey was a peacekeeper in Sarajevo during the breakup of Yugoslavia. Out of his regiment of 250, 14 have committed suicide, he said. “I ride for those 14 guys every day — that never goes away,” he said.
The primary goal was to launch and maintain programs under the Military Minds banner, but also to encourage those with PTSD to seek “brotherhood” to heal, Casey said.
“Lots of vets ride — they don’t have to think about the stuff that troubles them, they can just get out in the wind and enjoy it,” he said.
The ride, which departed Halifax on Aug. 6, was also open to civilian riders.
This year’s ride, the group’s second, ended with a lone piper in Victoria welcoming the group.
“It was truly amazing to be part of it all,” Casey said. “It is with this rolling community that we shall endeavour to conquer the stigma that surrounds PTSD and to provide care to those who need it.”
Casey said there have been improvements around PTSD awareness and funding over recent years, but not enough. “And there’s still a disconnect where vets still aren’t reaching out regardless of awareness,” he said.
Governments won’t get the message to do more for serving and retired Canadian Armed Forces members and first responders until Canadians demand action, he said.