Thousands of men and women have fought for freedom for the United States of America over the past 100 years and when they return home, things are never the same, mentally or physically.
According to a 2012 study by the Department of Defense, an average of 18 to 22 U.S. Veterans commit suicide each day. Peter and Kelly Guidry hope to reduce these statistics, one city at a time through their organization Forgotten Not Gone.
The group provides alternatives to those available through the VA Hospital, through emotional, physical and spiritual activities. “Our overall goal is a healing and wellness center,” said Kelly.
At this time, they have one branch open in North Las Vegas, but the Guidrys are seeking to open several all across Nevada, including Mesquite. With both of them being Air Force Veterans, they know firsthand how difficult it is to come back from combat with the emotional and physical scars and reentering society.
On Dec. 18 they visited Mesquite and with Mayor Al Litman at the Mesquite Veterans Center where they showed off some of the fun trikes they offer their comrades to use. With Mesquite being one of their target areas for a future center, they plan on holding a fundraiser in April 2016 in Mesquite to raise awareness of their program and gain additional sponsors. Once they have the funds to buy the materials and train veterans to assemble the trikes they use, they can begin to grow.
“Some people have permanent disabilities, some of them are in pain. This is a great alternative for them. These are fun and that helps with the depression and anxiety,” said Peter.
The trikes are like nothing that has been seen before, constructed of old shells and materials and adjusted to be self-powered vehicles that encourage veterans to get out and have fun. Each shell is a specific armed forces green, which clicks with veterans in a way many don’t understand. That in itself is more therapeutic than the standard medications and vocational therapies offered through the VA system.
The low speed vehicles are all street-legal, conforming to U.S. Title 15, Chapter 47 section 2085, allowing them to travel on all U.S. roads open to bicycle travel. For Mesquite, that’s nearly everywhere.
So far, they have built 12 trikes through self-financing. Ultimately, they want to have a minimum of 22 trikes available at a minimum of four facilities throughout Nevada.
“We’ve been asked to come do this in other areas,” said Kelly. “But we want to focus on Southern Nevada first.”
Their fundraiser in April will include several of their bikes riding from 22 miles south of Mesquite all the way to the Veterans Center on Hafen Lane. More details will be released at a later date.
To learn more about the Guidrys and their program, go to www. Forgottennotgone.org, email email@example.com or call 702-706-5777.