In the Arena

Wounded Vets Helping in Boston

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Courtesy of Ride2Recovery

Matt Dewitt

I spent the morning yesterday with John Wordin, the founder of Ride2Recovery–the excellent bicycle racing therapy program for wounded veterans. He told me that several of his members, who are amputees, were in the Boston hospitals, talking to victims of the Patriots Day attack.

Here they are: Kenny Butler (below) and Matt Dewitt (right).

Both are US Army veterans. Kenny is a full-arm amputee. Matt lost both of his. They’re able to participate in Road2Recovery events because John Wordin and his team have built special bikes that enable them to steer and brake despite their disabilities. (They’ve actually built bikes for quadruple amputees and carriers for paraplegics.)


Courtesy of Ride2Recovery

Kenny Butler

John Wordin told me story after story about how the strenuous exercise of cross-country riding helped veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress, how the camraderie generated by riding and hanging together helped vets to talk about their experiences and heal each other. “After a day’s ride,” John told me, “very few of these guys have trouble sleeping.”

And so Kenny and Matt are spending time with the many amputees in the Boston hospitals, telling them how–as President Obama said in his moving testimony at Thursday’s memorial service–it actually is possible to get up and run, and perhaps even race, again.

This is a small but very important story. We inevitably hear when a Iraq or Afghanistan veteran acts out violently–but there are far more, less dramatic instances where veterans, even severely wounded veterans, come home and continue their service by helping their communities. As Eric Greitens, the Time 100 honoree who runs The Mission Continues, often tells his fellow veterans, “Thank you for your service…but we still need you.”