Wounded warrior rides bike across Israel
November 6, 2010
By Amy Perry
FORT LEE, Va. (Nov. 5, 2010) Aca,!" A Fort Lee employee had the opportunity of a lifetime recently when he traveled across Israel on his bike.
Retired Army Sgt. Robert Laurent, now an operations specialist at Army Logistics University here, went on the October trip that was part of the Wounded Warrior Project and Soldier Ride program.
"The Wounded Warrior Project does a lot of national bike rides to raise awareness for wounded veterans," said Laurent. "When you get wounded, youAca,!a,,cre often discharged from the Army and you go your separate ways. The program fosters a bond to bring wounded warriors together."
The WWP ride in Israel was a prime example of the spirit of brotherhood among wounded veterans. After a recent ride with wounded Israeli soldiers in the United States, a trip to their country was planned.
The 10-day trip spanned nearly 400 miles and included urban and sparsely populated areas across the country.
"This ride was really technical," said Laurent. "Most of the rides stateside are on roads, but over there we were on mountain bikes and there were a lot of technical parts and a lot of hills."
Most of the Israeli riders were Soldiers wounded in the 2006 Lebanon War, said Laurent.
"The effects of their war are right there Aca,!" they can drive to the place they were injured," he said. "When (American Soldiers) come back home after being injured, we donAca,!a,,ct ever have to go back to the place we were injured. Those guys live in the country where they were injured."
Most Americans are separated from the war, said Laurent, and it doesnAca,!a,,ct affect them on a day-to-day basis. He said seeing the Israelis and learning about their experiences with war in their country really affected him.
"I canAca,!a,,ct emphasize enough the impact it had on me to see the guys who lived and fought in their country," he said. "We are so distant from our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It really changed my perspective on how significant the war should be in the day-to-day lives of Americans.
"The fact that we distance ourselves from the war Aca,!" so much so that itAca,!a,,cs not part of our kidsAca,!a,,c and parentsAca,!a,,c lives," Laurent continued. "I used to think that wasnAca,!a,,ct such a good thing Aca,!" but itAca,!a,,cs better than it affecting everyone on a day-to-day basis."
Laurent said the trip was his favorite bike ride so far.
"After my kids and wife, it was the top experience of my life," he said. "Being able to see things from my bike and ride with the Israeli guys Aca,!" to see some of the things that tourists donAca,!a,,ct normally see was amazing."