I never rode a motorcycle before 2018 as I was terrified of them due to an incident when I was a child. After I met Cam it was clear he loved riding and it was important to him. So I tried, it was wonderful. Had anyone said that I would ride across Canada on a motorcycle, well a trike, in my sixties I would have told them to get their heads examined.

The first time I heard of The Rolling Barrage was in 2021 when Cam asked me to do a day ride with him. We enjoyed it so much we registered for 8 days in 2022. As a widow who lost her veteran, first responder husband to PTSD in 2016 I found it a very moving experience but it wasn’t until this year when we did the Full Pull that I felt the full impact of this experience.

To give some background not only did I nurse my late husband through his mental and physical illnesses, I am a veteran (25 years, multiple postings and one tour) and first responder myself.

I have also been exposed to PTSD my whole life as my parents were Dutch survivors of WWII and my Dad was taken captive by the Nazis at 16 years old and forced at gunpoint to work on the German trains for two years before escaping, my mother worked as a first aider in Rotterdam as a teen during the air raids and was in a shelter when it was hit by a bomb and spend several days buried in rubble with the dead.

Dad was emotionally unavailable and Mom had claustrophobia and screaming nightmares whenever aircraft flew over the house. All in all the accumulation of their trauma, what I experienced as a first responder and caregiving a spouse with severe PTSD has had a significant impact on my mental health.

Before I did the Full Pull this year I hadn’t been able to cry since 1993. In therapy I have managed wet eyes but that is it. The caring, the sharing on this ride was the final catalyst that finally allowed me to let loose and actually feel something and to cry for all that I have lost, both my parents and my late husband. I was also for the first time ever able to stave off one of my panic attacks. While I shared some of this on the ride, I have never except to my therapist and my partner shared all of it. This is just the highlights.

In the military you are trained to make do, to suck it up, to get the mission done. Until now no one has ever shown us how to let it go, to share and to feel again. The Rolling Barrage is more than a motorcycle ride, it is a healing experience. Some of us do that quietly, some of us a louder and more flamboyant about it. It doesn’t matter how you deal with it, it only matter that you do.

I will be back next year.

Mickey Sawyer Sgt(Rtd) Military Police

Mickey Sawyer Full Pull Alumni, The Rolling Barrage