Veterans hit the road, spread awareness for mental health among former military members

Support for wounded veterans

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — On Monday, veteran John Roberts told Action News Jax his motorcycle is an important part of healing from his time in the military.

The veteran spent 14 years a Marine until a helicopter crash, in which he was injured and four of his friends were killed.

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“I spent the next year in a burn unit, going through 60 operations,” Roberts said.

He said his mental recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder took much longer than his physical injuries.

More than 6,000 veterans died by suicide in 2017, according to the Department of Veteran Affairs.

Members of Wounded Warrior Project’s “Rolling Project Odyssey” said they’ve been in that dark place.

They said it helps to be on a motorcycle out on the open road.

Veteran Jason bush explained, “On a motorcycle you have to be present to the wind going past your face, the roar of the motorcycle on the road.”

A survey of nearly 36,000 warriors showed 91% suffer from mental health conditions, the majority with PTSD, anxiety or depression.

Monday, the Odyssey group left from the Harley Davidson on Baymeadows Road.

The convoy plans to ride 850 miles around the state to raise awareness about veterans mental health.

The five-day trip included stops in Daytona, Tampa and Tallahassee.

They hit the road with a message for all former military members.

“If you’re struggling and you’re in a dark place, like many of us go to, it’s OK to ask for help,” Roberts said.