Sea2Sea Foundation visits Belvoir to raise awareness for Wounded Warriors
July 12, 2012
FORT BELVOIR, Va. (July 12) -- Fort Belvoir's Warrior Transition Battalion welcomed the Sea2Sea Foundation riding team July 3 at the Soldier and Family Assistance Center as part of the team's cross country cycling ride.
The members of the Sea2Sea Foundation raise national and international awareness of the sacrifices of Soldiers from the U.S. and the United Kingdom by bicycling across the two countries and sharing the Foundation's mission and vision at stops along the way.
The trip began April 23, 2012, in Washington State and traveled through 17 states, logging more than 4,400 miles in 70 days, before ending July 7 in London, England.
Tom von Kaenel, a retired U.S. servicemember, started the Foundation after suffering life-threatening injuries in a 2009 cycling accident. He lives in London and flew back to the U.K. after leaving Belvoir to finish the last part of the ride.
He told the Wounded Warriors that he and his fellow cyclists are grateful beyond words for the sacrifices they have made in defending the U.S. and U.K. since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and are forever in their debt. He also said he personally is thankful for the Freedoms they have secured for him and the rest of our nation.
"Even though the war in Iraq is over and the war in Afghanistan is winding down, (there are still Soldiers who suffered injuries in combat who need assistance)," said von Kaenel. "It's important we ensure all help and assistance is given to U.S. and U.K. veterans and their Families."
Von Kaenel isn't the only rider with prior military service. Michael Hathaway spent 20 years in the Air Force and decided to participate in the ride to show his appreciation for the Wounded Warriors as well.
"I'm here to support their efforts as they have the courage to move forward in their lives," said Hathaway. "I'm grateful to have my health, and I pray for theirs as they are on this journey."
Von Kaenel's words were appreciated by Soldiers like Master Sgt. Remus Trent, WTB B Company's acting first sergeant. Trent, who has 27 years of combined active and Reserve duty, and has deployed to Afghanistan, said von Kaenel's words show he and other Soldiers who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan are not forgotten.
"It makes you feel good about your service," said Trent. "Sometimes you get too involved in your daily work and you get involved with Family issues and everything else going on around you. When someone makes a comment like that, it makes you take a step back and think about how you've bettered yourself and the country."
Garrison Commander Col. Gregory D. Gadson spoke during the ceremony. Gadson thanked von Kaenel for stopping at Belvoir and said it is uplifting to meet Americans who appreciate military members.
He also told the Wounded Warriors, what makes a warrior is their ability to adapt and overcome any adversity thrown their way.
"This is good for us to see because it makes us appreciate what people are doing to help us and support us with the journey," Trent said of the Sea2Sea Foundation and Gadson's comments. "When guys get injured and come home, sometimes when they see leadership that has been through the same thing, they tend to get better quicker and feel better about themselves."
Capt. John Votovitch, WTB Operations Officer echoed Gasdson's comment on what makes a warrior.
Votovitch said an inner drive and spirit are what gives Wounded Warriors the resiliency and determination to push through tough situations.
"Life may have dealt you a bad hand, but it's your inner-strength that actually lifts you up," said Votovitch. "It allows you to deal with your circumstances and progress and get on with your life."
Votovitch also appreciated the foundation's decision to stop at Belvoir considering the country has been at war for nearly a decade.
"After 10 or 11 years at war it's fantastic," Votovitch said. "You would think the popular opinion would've waned over the years, but it hasn't. I think it's as strong today as it was in 2001. So, God bless them."
Along with raising awareness for the Wounded Warriors sacrifices, von Kaenel also hopes to show how much the Wounded Warriors can offer the civilian world. He wants to show the public they are capable of doing more than what their military occupational specialty requires them to do.
"The American public isn't aware of the wealth of talent the U.S. military has," said von Kaenel. "I'd take any of these guys off the street and hire them in a heart beat."