The Long Ride Home
Thursday 8 September, 2016
Ex-SAS Vietnam vet and champion skydiver Laurie ‘Truck’ Sams, is riding a bike from Hanoi to Sydney to raise awareness for veteran suicide and PTSD. He is an amputee. He filed this report from Narrogin near the start of the Nullarbor stage of the six-month, 10,000km ride:
All the signs were right for the perfect progress report for SA Veterans eNews – plenty of local interest, the body and bike rejuvenated (the seat needed a total rebuild), and t-shirt weather under a blue sky on South Perth’s beautiful foreshore.
We’d survived monsoonal weather and traffic chaos in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand but reckoned the Nullarbor leg would be the most challenging because of its unforgiving nature. Bingo, less than 48 hours into the wheatbelt we are hit by a massive cold front with 85-knot winds and hypothermic conditions.
So I’m filing this report wrapped in my sleeping back waiting for the winds to die down. Our three-tonne truck with its impressive The Long Ride Home branding is already earning its way and I’m thinking I’ll be sharing it with the support team once their swags are soaked through.
But it’s all worth it. PTSD is a killer, and not enough is being done about it. Our ride patron MAJGEN Michael Jeffery – my old CO in SASR and a former Governor-General – has warned of a ‘tsunami’ of new PTSD cases coming through from our Afghanistan and Iraq commitments, possibly bigger than we’ve seen from the Vietnam War.
The Long Ride Home is due to reach Adelaide on October 15 after welcome events in the likes of Ceduna, Port Augusta , Port Pirie and Whyalla, where my son William will join as co-rider for the rest of the ride to Adelaide.
Major General The Honourable Michael Jeffery, AC, AO(Mil), CVO, MC (Retd)
I am overwhelmed by the number of councils, RSL clubs and individuals who have stepped forward and I would like to take this opportunity to officially thank Deane Pye, my ex-1 SAS Squadron comrade, for coordinating the SA program.
Wrapping up (literally), I urge you to have a look at look at The Long Ride Home website, including my progress reports from Day 1 in Hanoi at www.thelongridehome.com.au/blogs – and give some thought as to how you can help ease the pain for our vets, serving soldiers and civilian emergency workers struggling with PTSD.