Cross-country motorcycle ride aims to make PTSD visible

HUMBOLDT — A cross-country motorcycle rally aims to make Post Traumatic Stress Disorder more visible, as well as build a community among those dealing with the condition.

The Rolling Barrage made a stop at Discovery Ford in Humboldt on Aug. 17, where there was also a fundraising barbeque for Humboldt first responders.

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“Our primary idea here is to bring people out and get them talking about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, operational stress injury and critical incident stress,” said Scott Casey, the president of Military Minds and the founder of the Rolling Barrage.

The ride started in Halifax on Aug. 6 and is slated to arrive in Burnaby, B.C. on Aug. 21.

Casey said mental health is a major, one that’s not handled properly by many companies and organizations.

“What we have to do is make some noise about it and get people involved, start making some changes against the stigma that surrounds mental health,” he said.

“As a group of combat veterans and first responders, we have an opportunity to change the way people think about mental health and post-traumatic stress. And just realize that it's normal.”

Casey said it’s important for people to understand that PTSD is an issue, but it’s something that can be dealt with.

“For the most part, when people develop PTSD, they retract, they move away from society, and because they don't feel that they're worthy of being around, they sink into a deep, dark hole,” he said. “That's where the real trouble starts. They get into a cycle of vortex that drags them down deeper and deeper and deeper.”

In that case, it's important for the community to recognize what’s going on and make sure they receive help.

The ride founder said that motorcycling is something that can be therapeutic

“When you're on the bike, you don't have time to think about anything else. You're focusing on riding and being safe,” he said. “Just getting some wind in your face takes away a lot of your negative thoughts because you're busy focusing on riding safely.”

Riders can join and leave whenever they want. There’s usually around 40 riding their motorbikes at one time, though that number can reach as high as 90.

This is the third year the motorcycle rally has made its way across the country. Casey said during that time, he’s seeing people he’s met at stops in previous years get involved.

“There's one fellow that was holed up in his house didn't want to come outside, and now he's riding along with us,” he said. “The message is getting out there and people are developing and that's what we want to see.”

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