The Rolling Barrage PTSD Foundation / The Rolling Barrage – Testimonies
Testimonies are described as:
- a solemn declaration
- first hand knowledge and authentication
- open acknowledgement
- a public profession, opinion or view
- a decree
Below are Testimonies of those who have been on The Rolling Barrage over the years in some capacity, be it a rider, safety, support, volunteer, or within the leadership of the organization.
The “testimonies” below are the “riders” stories of how they feel about The Rolling Barrage, themselves, how the ride affected, changed, or helped them.
It is a glimpse into who they are, what they experienced, and possibly a history of what brought them here. Take your time to read them.
If you have been on The Rolling Barrage, you will probably relate and nod in agreement a lot. You may laugh, cry, remember, maybe stop reading for a bit, but hopefully come back.
If you have not been on The Rolling Barrage, maybe it is time to build your own story.
First, let me say that, despite what the organizers may think, this was the most organized, well run, well led, and well received (by the riders and the public that we encountered) ride I have ever been part of. I want to extend a heartfelt thanks to all those who took the time to organize, run, guide, and protect all of us.
I first heard of The Rolling Barrage a couple of years ago from a friend who had done a couple of legs in BC and Alberta, and he told me I needed to be a part of this. I looked into it and thought it would be a great ride but, due to the fact that I was still working, my schedule never lined up, even for a section or two.
Fast forward to this year and I found myself heading into retirement and so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to do a couple of legs. However, as I read more about this group, who they were, what they stood for and what they were trying to do, it became clear that a couple of legs of the trip were not going to be sufficient.
I sat down and did some thinking. I have always wanted to ride a motorcycle across Canada, and this gave me the opportunity to do that with a group of people I have always admired and respected.
To give a little background context on that, I have always, since I was a child, had a deep respect and admiration for veterans.
Growing up, there were still First World War vets showing up at Remembrance Day ceremonies, and the Second World War vets were still in the workforce. Korean War vets had young families. I looked at these people and when I heard or read about their stories and their bravery, it inspired me. As the years went by and these men began to disappear, it left a hole in my world. So that is why, to this day, anyone who enters the service of our country has my respect.
Fast forward to present day and I decided that it would be an honour to be able to ride with this group. But how far? BC? Alberta? No, that would not be good enough to satisfy me. I had to do the Full Pull. Once I registered, the one thing I have always feared in my life manifested itself…failure. It dawned on me the magnitude of the task I was undertaking.
From shipping the bike to Newfoundland, to booking the hotels, to budgeting for food and fuel, to wondering if my bike could make it all the way, to the most nagging fear…would I be accepted by the other riders as I am not a veteran. That was the biggest one.
I didn’t know anyone at all, and I had no connection to the group through military service. In my mind, I was just a firefighter. In my other riding circles, that meant something, as I rode with other firefighters almost exclusively. I thought to myself that I would simply hang at the back of the pack and if I got to meet a couple of people that would be the best I could hope for.
I assumed that everyone on the ride knew each other for many years and were old friends getting together every year. I decided that I would use the time on the road as wind therapy and an opportunity to reflect on things that were weighing me down emotionally from my time on the job. It’s a big country and I had a lot of baggage to dispose of along the way.
My arrival in St. John’s was the first indication that things were not going to be as I expected. Basil from Rugged Rock HD had agreed to pick me up from the airport at 6 AM. Incredible! And then he drove me around and showed me where my hotel was, where a good fuel stop was and where there was a great breakfast location before taking me back to the dealership and letting me get my bike before the shop opened.
I briefly met Mark, Sheila, and Karen at the dealership (a good start as it turned out). The day rides before we left were opportunities to see how things worked and I decided to keep as low a profile as I could, following orders and fitting in where I was supposed to.
I have to say, Jim is an imposing figure, and I knew right away that he was someone I definitely did not want to piss off (as well as Tailgunner Chris). I looked around the parking lot at all the riders assembled and my intimidation factor began to grow. These were all veterans, what business did I have being here?
Oh well, just shut up and ride. After all, you’re here to address your fears, aren’t you? I was able to settle in and had met a couple of people like Scott Sherlow as well as Mark, Sheila and Karen, If that was all, then I would consider it a success. The next few days of riding I just focused on fitting in to the pattern on the road. I was feeling a bit more comfortable and thought that I might even try to reach out and meet more people. Then it happened. I hit what I, and my wife, have come to describe as my down days.
Every once in a while, my emotional trauma and a family history of depression combine to drive me right into the ground and bury me in despair. I’ve learned, or so I thought, how to mask it but I guess I wasn’t doing a good job this time. My first exposure to what this ride has done for me is when I had people I barely knew or didn’t know at all come up to me and ask me if I was OK.
Self defense mode kicks in and I lie (sorry) and say that I’m just tired. My mind now starts racing and says “you have to hide it better!”
When we left PEI, I could feel myself coming out of it, and the beauty of New Brunswick definitely helped. The next eye-opening moment of what this ride is all about came in Oromocto, I arrived at the Legion late and decided to sit down by myself and wait for my food rather than interfere with any of the other groups that had already settled in.
While I’m sitting there, Scott Casey (the man, the legend) comes up and squats down next to the table and says, “are you OK?” Wait, what??? Talk about blowing me off my feet! I don’t think we had even met yet and here is the founder of this ride checking in on me. I told him “Yes, I’m fine. Why do you ask?” He says, “because you’re sitting here by yourself.”
The thought that there were people looking out for me never occurred to me. I then realized how much this group cared about each other’s well being. As the days went on, that feeling grew and I began to meet and get to know more people. I considered myself fortunate and I was grateful to hear some of their stories about their struggles with emotional trauma. Although I don’t think I shared any of my own stories, listening to people share their own pain somehow helped to calm mine. I hope that sharing was helpful and again I am grateful for being an ear.
I wish I could say that the rest of the ride was all sunshine (literally and figuratively) but there were moments where I felt overwhelmed and still tried to hide it. This is something I am working on. The most notable moment was when the young lady with the assistance dog program addressed the group at the Legion. After her presentation, as we were getting ready to go, I stopped by and was going to ask if I could pet the dog. She turned to me and saw something on my face, I guess, because she asked me ” do you need the dog right now?”
I completely lost it and burst into tears.
Just as a compressed gas cylinder must let go when the pressure gets too high, the dog became my pressure relief valve. Thank you. So much for hiding it. By this time, I have met many, if not all the Full Pull crew, but I still felt like the outsider. That all changed when we got to Neepawa.
When I received the quilt of valor, that was the end of me feeling like an outsider and I feel it was a major turning point in my overall recovery. This was now becoming family. Having a daily morning prayer group strengthened the bonds I felt and then being able to lead a couple of them solidified my feelings of acceptance.
By the time we reached the West Coast I knew I had conquered at least one of my foes. The fear of failure on this ride. I felt that some things in my life and my outlook had changed for the better. I am grateful to the people on the ride who did what they did, not just for me, but for everyone. And everyone did something for each other and for themselves.
See you all next time!
Nous avons participé à The Rolling Barrage pour la première fois à l’été 2021. Nous devions participer pendant trois jours. Alors seuls civils du groupe dans cette portion du trajet, nous avions un peu le sentiment d’être des imposteurs, incertains d’être à notre place dans cette randonnée. Au fil des heures nous avons établis des liens avec plusieurs participants et déjà après la première journée nous nous sentions accueillis au sein de cette communauté.
La magie a opérée et nous avons finalement prolongé notre participation d’une journée. Le matin du départ, nous avons pris conscience du réconfort que notre participation avait apportée à certains participants. Cela est venu confirmer qu’en tant que civils nous avions notre place dans ce groupe. À défaut d’avoir servi notre pays, comme militaires, ou notre communauté, comme premiers répondants, nous pouvions supporter ces hommes et ces femmes par notre présence et notre écoute.
Au retour, nous étions tous les deux transformés, ce fut une expérience très marquante dans nos vies. Le groupe nous manquait à un tel point!
Nous ressentions un grand vide!
Depuis, nous sommes plus sensibles à la réalité de ces hommes et de ces femmes qui souffrent en silence. À ces blessures ne sont pas visibles (some wounds aren’t visible). Voilà pourquoi nous avons depuis supporté cet événement et pourquoi nous nous impliquons, avec le désir profond de faire un jour le « Full Pull ».
Le Rolling Barrage, c’est une thérapie par le vent. Une expérience unique pour tous, que vous soyez vétéran, premier répondant, de leur famille ou comme nous, des civils. C’est des amitiés et une grande famille qui se tissent au fil des kilomètres et qui s’étendent d’un océan à l’autre. En peu de temps vous ressentez cette bienveillance qui s’installe entre les participants et vous savez… Vous savez qu’ils sont et seront toujours là pour vous et que c’est réciproque. Voilà ce qui résume, l’empreinte que vous laisse le TRB.
We participated in The Rolling Barrage for the first time in the summer of 2021. We were supposed to participate for three days. So only civilians of the group in this portion of the journey, we had the feeling of being imposters, unsure of being in our place in this hike.
Over the hours we established links with several participants and already after the first day we felt welcomed in this community. The magic worked and we finally extended our participation by one day.
On the morning of departure, we became aware of the comfort that our participation had brought to some participants. This confirmed that as civilians we had our place in this group. Without having served our country, as soldiers, or our community, as first responders, we could support these men and women by our presence and our listening.
When we returned, we were both transformed, it was a very memorable experience in our lives. We missed the group so much! We felt a big emptiness! Since then, we have become more sensitive to the reality of these men and women who suffer in silence.
Though these wounds are not visible (some wounds aren’t visible). That’s why we’ve since supported this event and why we’re getting involved, with the deep desire to one day do the “Full Pull”.
The Rolling Barrage is a wind therapy. A unique experience for everyone, whether you are a veteran, first responder, their family or like us, civilians.
It’s friendships and a big family that are woven over the miles and stretch from coast to coast. In a short time you feel this benevolence that settles between the participants and you know… You know that they are and will always be there for you and that it is reciprocal.
That’s what sums up, the footprint that the The Rolling Barrage leaves on you.
I would like to share what The Rolling Barrage (TRB) has given to me. I was diagnosed with PTSD about 4 years after my release from the CAF.
This was hard for me as I had moved after my release and became disconnected in many ways from the men & woman I served with. It was partially due to this that I decided to keep this diagnosis to myself. The only person I had shared it with originally was my wife, as I was embarrassed and self conscious. I did not want this diagnosis, and I also felt in some ways ashamed due to it.
I looked at myself as being weak and having a weak mind and blamed the diagnosis on myself and I told myself this over and over. After receiving this diagnosis, I had been seeing a counsellor very sporadically because I did not want to go.
The counsellor continuously suggested that I needed to take time off work to really get on top of this and address this mental injury. I ignored this advice for the first few years and because of this, things were continuing to spiral further, out of control.
Imagine, if you will, being in a portrait, I was in it and because I was in it, I could not see what was happening all around me outside of it.
This was creating a very severe negative impact on my family and on my health. Because of my pride and unwillingness to listen to the professionals, it got to the point that I had almost a complete disconnect from brain and body.
I could go days without eating or sleeping and I did not even notice. I had little feeling of pain and was numb to a lot of what was happening to me. I became very forgetful and had very little focus toward normal everyday tasks.
I was put on medication that I regularly forgot to take and I was pounding in coffee and things to keep me awake in the day and then trying to heavily medicate myself at night to sleep.
Things got to the point that my wife had to step away from her work to be an aid for me and to help prompt me with medication, meals, and appointments. It did not take long before she said, if you are not willing to fix this or at least listen to your counsellor, I do not think there are any other options than a divorce or at the very least separation.
My wife and daughters made an appointment to sit with my counsellor and from there the counsellor said, I think I would like for you to sit with your family doctor and I would like to send along a letter to update the doctor on your current condition.
Still with next to no concern for my own health, but not wanting to lose my family, I agreed to sit with the doctor and see where it went from there.
To back track, the counsellor had sent me 1 year earlier with a letter to my doctor, to which my doctor had recommended time off, but I was unwilling to follow that advice at that time.
This appointment would be different. My wife was there to hear what the doctor had to say and to give more details if needed. Once with the doctor, she read the letter from the Councilor and said, typically I would put someone of fwork for about 2 weeks, but this is not where you are at right now. I’m putting you off work for 3 months.
At this time in my life I was 3/4 through a Masters degree, and working a casual/on-call position at a hospital on top of full-time employment.
I think now looking back that I was doing this so that my mind had little time to think as I was mentally busy from the time my feet hit the floor until my head hit the pillow at night.
So when the doctor said she was putting me off work, I asked if I could continue schooling and working casual as she only said “no work” and she quickly said “No! everything stops today”.
I remember I had tears pouring down my face, and even now reminiscing as I write this, it is emotional for me. My personality is one that if I am told “you cannot do that” my attitude is and was, watch me prove you wrong! I, for one, do not like being told what to do but I definitely do not like being told what I cannot do.
I went home completely in shock, and I really did not know where to go there, but thankfully my counsellor along with Veterans Affairs, placed me into a 6-month rehabilitation program.
This program included several different types of appointments, which I went to 3 to 5 days every week for 6 months. What surprised me was that most of the appointments were dealing with my body, not with my mind, as they were aiming to help me reestablish the connection between body and brain.
The hope was that I would be better able to function at home and out in public, as at home I was so tense, everyone walked on eggshells and in public I often had breakdowns where I would have to make my way to my car, vibrating until I could settle down and either I would have to go home or settle and reattempt to do what I was doing shortly before.
My doctor kept putting me off work in 3-month intervals which continued through the program and a bit beyond.
Where does TRB come in? It was within just a few weeks of finishing the 6 months of rehabilitation when I saw on social media a post for The Rolling Barrage. Right away there was a connection. I owned a motorcycle; I live with PTSD; I was still off work, and I was a veteran. It seemed like the perfect fit.
I asked my wife if she would support me and if she felt it would be a good idea for me to attempt taking part in it and not only was she for it; she was willing to do whatever was needed to help me go on it.
I signed up and joined 2021 TRB! I was a stranger to not only the other riders, but to the organization as well. I did not know what to expect or anyone else who would be riding, but I knew I had to do this not only for myself but for my family and my health.
When I showed up to the restaurant where they were having dinner the night before the ride started, I was asked how far I was thinking to ride and I said, it will depend on my bike, my body and my budget and if all is well there and with my family, I’m heading to Vancouver.
When we departed on day 1, I was a stranger and by the time I reached the West Coast I had developed an incredible group of friends, men & women that I knew I could count on. They all knew roughly what I had been going through, as many had gone through their own challenges with PTSD or OSI and they were willing to share and open up about their own personal struggles.
It was midway through the journey that I began to share about some of my own struggles as very early on the trip I began to feel that this was a place where I belonged.
We all loved motorcycles, we all had our own struggles many with PTSD, and we were all willing to put each other ahead of ourselves and love on each other as family.
By the time I reached the West Coast, the core Full Pull Crew was family. We had a ceremonial tire dip in the Pacific and when we left from there, a bond had been built that I know will last.
Yet, it was not just the Full Pull crew that I got very close to, I met many great people on the way, who I have continued to be in contact with and we have offered support and friendship to each other to this day.
In my own opinion and for my own personal story, TRB was more beneficial than my 6 months of therapy. I am not saying the therapy was not essential, as it was.
But, TRB gave me my life back after feeling it was gone and being exhausted from the therapy and struggling with PTSD.
I was uncomfortable to share this story, and the only reason I am sharing it here is because TRB had such a positive impact for me. Not only regarding my PTSD, but in many areas of life as well. I have also lost far too many friends and acquaintances at their own hand to PTSD and/or OSI and do not want another life lost. Further, I know that life is worth living and I know there are others who struggle, many of whom struggle in silence.
I could not recommend enough to someone to take part in TRB. If you come out for a day, you will be out for a great ride. If you come out for a couple of days, you will be out for an experience. But if you have the guts and determination to be part of the Full Pull crew, you will be a part of the most epic journey.
Seeing our great country is only a part of it, but finding a family that you can know, love and trust, who will not judge but listen and who will not turn their back on you when times get tough is priceless.
PTSD may be permanent, but it does not need to be life ending. Life is worth living and life for me is more enjoyable on 2 wheels.
I look forward to seeing you or meeting you on the road with The Rolling Barrge in the future.
As I sat on the deck of the Ferry on my way home on the final day of The Rolling Barrage uncontrollably crying with tears rolling down my face, looking at the water, I felt so overwhelmed I could not handle all the emotions that were coming out.
There were so many emotions exploding at once that I could not grasp what was happening. It was like a big dump of feelings all at once. I was so confused I couldn’t understand why all these emotions and thoughts were coming out now. I just finished an epic journey of a lifetime learning more about myself and healing from PTSD. The end part of the journey was epic you will have to do a Full Pull to get the true meaning of what happens on the ride and the end is mind-blowing.
The ceremony at the end was a way for the full pullers to leave what they want to leave behind from the full ride. For me the ending represented leaving my negative thoughts there in the parking lot. I thought I left all the shit emotions in the parking lot with the end ceremony. But it only took a few hours for the feeling to rush back popping like balloons. Too much to handle and I was crying on the car deck of the ferry wanting them all to go away.
With an intense feeling of not wanting to live anymore, also came deep feelings of survival. With that I remembered something said to me the first few days of the ride when I was in the rabbit hole once again and a fellow Veteran saw I was struggling and hurting and said to me something I needed to hear.
Again I looked at the water wanting to jump in to stop the overpowering feelings. Been there many times before, but this time I decided to dig down deep and use my tools and reach out and phoned a person in my new TRB family. I have learned with all my therapy over the years that I need to be vulnerable in order to heal. The Journey and the ride with the Rolling Barrage ended up being a safe place for me to be more vulnerable so I could do more healing.
Last year I was supposed to be on one of the legs of the The Rolling Barrage but something happened unexpectedly and I couldn’t make it. So after Christmas of this year me and a friend of mine decided that we’re going to do the Full Pull.
So, I signed up for the Full Pull. The hotels were booked, flights made and the bike put on the truck for the trip across Canada.
A few days before the flight, my anxiety was going through the roof. The trip was getting close, things were happening and the feelings were coming. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go. I was thinking about pulling out because the anxiety was too high, feelings were overwhelming and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to leave my safe place and my service dog. There were a lot of first things on this trip without my dog. (That’s for another story).
The first few days were rough. My anxiety was through the roof, my window of tolerance was small, I couldn’t really think straight and my emotions were all over the place. I couldn’t really pinpoint what was going on and then I realized it was because of the dedication in the morning. The dedications were for the fallen somebody that took their lives because of PTSD’s demons.
The dedications were rough for me because it reminded me of all the Brothers and Sisters I lost and for my two attempts. The first attempt was pills I just wanted to go to sleep and not wake up and the second attempt, I went into the garage smoked a joint put on my two bikes and wanted to go to sleep. I was almost there until the cops broke down the door and took me to the hospital.
The dedications every morning brought back my survival’s guilt, shame and guilt surrounding my own suicide attempts. I have done a lot of work surrounding my PTSD, been to two treatment centers, first in St Ann’s in Quebec for 5 and 1/2 months, and Homewood for 3 months.
All they did was dope me up on pills. I learned over the last few years in my journey through PTSD one of the things that works for me is being vulnerable and weed but that is another story. Being vulnerable is something a soldier is never allowed to be.
So here I am, the window of tolerance is getting smaller, emotions are all over the place, feelings of guilt and shame are unbearable, and once again I am in a place where the darkness takes over and I want to end it all and ride into an oncoming semi and stop all the emotions dead stop. So the roller coaster continued like this for a few days. Two or three days into the ride, I realized my emotions were all out of wack and I was beating myself up pretty hard for not being able to handle things like a soldier.
I think it was the third or fourth day and I broke down, started crying uncontrollably and my emotions came out every which way. I broke down with shame and guilt comes in and makes me feel week and feel like a soldier anymore and I can’t go on this way. Then a good friend now a Brother on the ride came up to me and saw that I was hurting and he said to me once I told him I didn’t feel like a soldier anymore and I was beating myself up he said to me, “Yance you’re not a soldier anymore, you’re a Veteran healing.
That really struck a chord with me and I realized at that moment, that was what I was trying to do with all the programs and work I have done so far…. was to heal and I have to give myself the chance at being a Veteran that is healing and not broken.
In order to heal I have to make new pathways away from my trauma pathways.
So after about 7 or 8 days, I decided to do a dedication to me and I talked about my suicide attempts because I didn’t want to run anymore from those emotions and demons. And being vulnerable in front of loving people that get me and understand was a way for me to make another healthy pathway towards healing.
So one morning before the ride I got up in front of the crowd. My anxiety was out to lunch. But I knew I had to speak from the heart and let it go. I realized as I was talking people were putting their hands on my shoulders they were giving me love, my brothers and sisters after gave me hugs, and enormous love and support, there was no judgement just love.
For one of the first time in a long time the guilt and shame was getting smaller and my Window was opening and it felt ok. I felt safe, I felt all the people around me understood and got it. I felt the healing journey start.
With that my whole attitude changed. I started to get to know people, I started to have fun and got to see things. The ride was amazing. Some days I went out on my own just so I could have my own little journey and that was truly truly peaceful and what I needed. I owe that to another sister on the ride. She told me it’s my Journey and ok to go by myself and heal. And also she expressed that a added bonus is that you knew that when you got to the hotel that night all your brothers and sisters were there to help you and keep you safe and give you love and hugs you would need.
After that moment my journey and feelings started to open. My window of tolerance was getting bigger which in turn allowed me to enjoy the journey a lot more.
I started to see more things about myself and learn. I realized how important it was to go my own path. I always liked that poem by Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken”. I’ve always been the one to take the road less taken. So I went by myself on my own a few times and I learned a lot more about myself.
This day I was riding through the prairies and all I could smell was lavender. And I remember from some Wounded Warrior courses that a smell may help you out of those dark moments, lavender was kind of my smell. So I pulled over got off my bike and walked into the lavender field and for the first time in a long time I felt at peace, free and truly happy, almost like I didn’t have a care in the world, and at that moment my anxiety I lived with all the time was gone. I felt truly free for a moment from my PTSD.
From that moment the high carried on all day. It usually takes me a long time to trust and I always feel on guard usually around people I don’t know or crowds and places I don’t trust. Going into a business or a restaurant I always have to set my back to the wall It’s really bothersome really causes me a lot of fucking grief and major anxiety.
After the ride through the Prairie’s and Lavender field, it ended being my second best memory of the whole ride.
So that night we were at a function outside, and I went and sat down with some of my new family with tears in my eyes and running down my face, and a crowd all around me. I expressed the crying because of joy and gratitude that for the first time in a long time I felt safe and free from my anxiety and PTSD and told about the lavender field.
There are so many more memories I can share about this journey I can go on and on, there’s so much more I have learned about myself and added many many tools to the Tool box to help live a better Quality of life with my PTSD. And I realized that day my new family has and this Ride has changed my life. I am now willing to do more work, and I have goals, next year the Full pull. Jumping out of planes and running the island. And maybe even the run for the wall. So now I have a few retreats and programs set up in future to further help with my anxiety and traumas surrounding my PTSD. So, until 2024 when I see you all again because I will be doing the full pull again, until then I just want to say thank you to Scott and Leslie and all the crew and fellow full pullers and everybody else that was a part of my journey on the TRB 2023. Love and mad respect to all.
Stay Toasty 💚
I first became aware of the The Rolling Barrage in 2020 by fluke on Facebook, where someone posted it and I had 2 days to figure things out and arrive in Kingston.
I told my wife about it and she was very supportive and said it will be good for you. So off I went into the unknown and new people.
Upon arrival in Kingston, my anxiety was thru the roof, however, at registration, one of the first persons I met was The Rolling Barrage’s now CEO, “Opie”. Somehow, he put me at ease.
My first year, I kind of observed and enjoyed being back in a pack and amongst fellow veterans. My bike is my therapy of sorts, it’s my thinking machine. I’ve ridden bikes, since my dirt bike days as a teen and had the fortunate luck of having a cousin whom had multiple bikes, that I could use.
We rode, every opportunity, to the point of even siphoning gas out of his mother’s car (that was a bad mistake). So needless to say and dangerously, I can easily go into Auto mode and think and think and think.
That ride , I rediscovered my military ME again, which I buried, like many others. I also started embracing ME again, that this mental illness can rob, you, of.
A short while after I returned home, my wife noticed the change and liked it very much.
So did I.
In 2021, I did most of Ontario and felt more at ease, as I had met many friends/vets and I was back with the The Rolling Barrage family again.
One hiccup that year was the Tornado. Even though, it spun me around 180 degrees, I stopped and fell over. The next day, I could barely walk but I planned on going another day to Thunder Bay, and with the support I felt from others, I was doing it, as any other way, would be a failure on my part. Plus sitting wasn’t an issue but walking was a B*tch.
2022 was just as enjoyable as the previous 2 other times and I grew even more. This year I had my newly adopted fur baby, Teddy and he was an excellent co-rider. When everyone left in Dryden, I looked down at my lone bike in the parking lot and the emotions exploded as I wanted so bad to continue but had appointments and couldn’t change.
Me and Teddy had a blast riding back home, we encountered so many memorable moments and met different people, whom I educated on about The Rolling Barrage with the help of 🧸 Teddy, my attention getter.
I decided at that point, I am no longer leaving my Rolling Barrage family and in 2023, I would do the FULL PULL.
FULL PULL year 2023, was nothing short of Magical.
It was also my Come Home year, to Newfoundland as I never went back after I left, which was approximately 42 years ago.
Each and every day, there was always a highlighted moment or two or even three. During my time in Newfoundland, I came to the conclusion that my WW2 Grandfather wasn’t actually mentally crazy as my Uncle shared war stories of him and without a doubt, he had major PTSD.
Don’t get me wrong , I also looked up to my Grandfather as he took me trout fishing and showed me many skills. To top it off, I discovered his full uniform at the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Museum and that was the cream de la creme.
This year I volunteered as a TailGunner and that gave me more purpose and as part of the Safety Team, I take this very seriously, as no one is putting my Rolling Barrage family in harms way.
I encountered bike issues and it drove my anxiety to new levels but I knew, I had lots of support all around me. There came a point in my thinking, that only the Death Angel, could stop me from completing the Full Pull. Once I finally got my bike fixed, I was Golden then.
I grew even more this year, and most of it, was with the help of my Rolling Barrage family and most of all, the bonded fellowship of my new FULL PULL Family.
Will I do it again, Hell ya. I’m already saving and already got my new roommate. LOL
I was first introduced to The Rolling Barrage back in 2020 by Nigel and was not able to attend due to Covid and not fully understanding the purpose of the ride at the time.
I registered for the 2021 TRB joining in Red Deer and riding to Burnaby. I was welcomed by the group of riders and introduced to Jim. Listening to him every morning about talking about family and what it means to him struck a chord within my heart and soul. The country’s beauty along the ride west had me reflect on my life and being over the past 10+ years.
On the final night in Burnaby as I sat alone trying to put the whole experience into perspective, Jim came over to me and asked how I was. After a few moments I opened up and let out all the emotions, hurts and misgivings I had bottled up inside me. Jim sat and listened, put his arm around me and said this is the beginning of the healing process. When I got home, I was able to sit down with my wife, Gerry (45 yrs), and started talking with her again. The healing process begins.
2022 saw me in joining TRB in Cranbrook for the short ride back to Burnaby. I never realized what this ride meant until Jim pulled me aside and again asked how I was. To remember and be concerned about my wellbeing was heart felt and welcoming. The TRB family was now my family. Gerry and I are doing things together again. The healing process continues.
Full Pull 2023, NL to BC, I volunteered to be part of the Safety Crew as a Tail Gunner. I had a few misgivings when I was introduced to Chris and the rest of the group. Just like joining a new section, no questions asked, acceptance was given. This small but important group gave me purpose that I was lacking after leaving the Military.
We bonded, we talked, we listened, we gave comfort when needed, accepted encouragement and praise when least expected. 22 days together with brothers and sisters I knew I never had. Each with their own stories, troubles and demons. A quiet morning breakfast with Scott, hugs from brothers and sisters freely given and accepted, a gentle kiss on the cheek with words of encouragement that I am doing well. Now I know we are one, with the love, understanding, acceptance and the willingness to listen, to give comfort and help when and where they can.
Our (my) family! Gerry and my children are enjoying each others company again. The healing process continues.
To quote Jim: “I come back to help that one person the way The Rolling Barrage helped me.”
I’ll be back!!
As I sit here waiting for the words to come to express myself, I find that writing this testimonial is a struggle……..here is my story:
Sitting in my garage in 2016/17, I contemplated riding across Canada with a couple of close friends Scott (SC) and Leslie (Lastly). SC had a vision of establishing an annual Coast to Coast ride across Canada called The Rolling Barrage (TRB) that would raise awareness and fundraise for PTSD for Veterans and First Responders. I’m like, “ya, whatever SC” but the idea intrigued me.
I found myself agreeing and the next thing you know, I’m in my home province, Newfoundland, starting a ride across Canada with a couple of close friends and three strangers. There were 7 of us doing the Full Ride / Pull.
In 2018, again sitting in my garage…..SC says, “ya know we have to do it again”. I remember sitting there looking at him with a WTF look on my face. As I looked at him, I could see that his heart and soul was poured in his vision of TRB and he could not / would not let it fail!
By completing the Full Ride in 2018, it would cement the foundation of creating an annual ride to combat PTSD. How could I say no? 2018 saw me complete the Full Ride / Pull!!
Soooo, the first year for me was solely to get across Canada. 2018 I was there to support SC but I began to feel the power of the ‘ride’ and to feel the emotional and mental support from the variety of riders that joined the ride across the country.
For me, this is when I recognized that the Core values of TRB aligned with my own career (RCMP) and personal Core Values. SERVICE. HONOUR. INTEGRITY.DEDICATION. VIGILANCE. COURAGE. SACRIFICE. I had found people I could trust.
Fast forward, I participated in TRB every year since with the exception of 2022. In August / September of 2022, I was dealt a personal blindside that almost broke me. I had a huge support network, but the struggle was real, and it was hard!
In early November 2022, I decided that I wanted to get back to my Core values and to the Core Values of TRB. I would do TRB 2023 Full Pull!!!
This was a decision that I am forever grateful I made and fulfilled. I’m not gonna lie, the first 3-4 days were sketchy as hell…I don’t think I could have cried more behind my sunglasses!! Let me try to explain, I met up with old friends who embraced me and who accepted my new personal circumstances without prying questions. I met brand new people who didn’t know me from Adam but accepted me for who I was and who didn’t ask invasive questions.
As I settled into the ride, I found ‘me’ again! Actually, I found a better and stronger version of me that I had lost somewhere along the way. I am so very grateful to all the riders, as each and every person helped me….some without knowing it….some knowing fully what their friendship and support means.
Whether TRB is a personal journey of discovery or as a means of support for Veteran’s / First Responders and their FAMILIES; this is an experience that you will not regret.
Bring on TRB 2024!!!
How do I begin without starting at the beginning of my journey, of lost acceptance, of healing.
3 years ago I heard an old friend, Jim Gordon, a soldier I served with was doing this ride across Canada and would be in Barrie. I made a point of meeting him for breakfast at Indian Motorcycle and just saying hello. After that very brief reconnection the seed was planted. I had not owned a motorcycle in more than 35yrs at that point. I got to say hello to Scott Casey the founder of The Rolling Barrage. We had met briefly during our service.
The following year I was determined to get a bike again and do a leg, nothing more. So with 300km on my little 500 honda I met the TRB in Barrie and rode one day to breakfast at Currie Towing. What a breakfast they put on for us, steak and eggs, pancakes and bacon, did I say Bacon. My wife has muscular dystrophy and I find it very hard to stay away and leave my responsibilities to someone else. So that was just a one day ride but I was openly welcomed. Nigel asked me this year why he remembered me if I only rode one day. That answer was easy, when you big Harley, Indian and Goldwing riders take off it’s fast and me on my little baby honda as it’s been called, panic and try to catch you well the inevitable happens. I launched it with to much gas and brought the front wheel off ground and hung on to it.
The next year I was determined to do more and did Kingston to Sault Ste Marie, well north of Sault Ste Marie because I heard of that big breakfast and was going to join them for it, wasn’t going to miss it.
This year 2023 had a very urgent need for me, emotional need that I couldn’t see, but others could yet I knew I needed to do this Full Pull.
My wife of 35yrs, Linda is battling myotonic dystrophy (form of muscular dystrophy) and it is progressive. I knew I needed this trip on so many levels but how could I leave Linda home while I went out to ride on a cross country ride with the guys/gals. I was being selfish and uncaring and honestly up until the morning I actually threw my leg over the saddle I was not going, the guilt was heavy on my heart, my shoulders. I had arranged for an extra PSW to come in Mon to Fri and help Linda, even just sit and chat of go for a scoot on her scooter. My sister is living here and Linda’s mom would come by, she live 10 minutes away. My mom and her gentleman friend came by with lunch. So I had no excuse not to go but still I felt the burden, the guilt.
I met up with Chris, Keith, Paul and Les in North Bay and headed to Saint John’s. Chris could see the weight even though I thought it was hidden. Newfoundland was an emotional trip because in my saddlebags I carried some of my father’s ashes and intended to spread them on a beach on the Rock. My father came to Canada after the war and was sponsored by a Ranch in Trail BC. Once his ticket was paid in full he ended up in Ont where he met my mom.
As kids my father wanted us to know what a great country we lived in and we camped each summer in tents in every province except Newfoundland. 5 yrs ago we lost my father at 87, don’t be sad he lived a great live and up til 86 he was still riding his bicycle 40 miles a day. Where am I going with this.
The day my father passed at home with us by his side my buddy called me. I saw the call but did not pick it up, I was busy and would call him later. Saw he left a message on my phone and on my FB page of his condolences. Not a problem I’ll call him later. That night my buddy, Allen of more than 25yrs hung himself. That hit me like a rock, I always felt he robbed me of grieving for my father. So since my father had never made it to Newfoundland I felt it was the right place to spread some of his ashes. I broke away from the group and with the help of a former supply Tech now preacher buddy we went to a secluded beach and I spread his ashes on the beach and let the waves take him out. I hoped that that would give my some closure and forgiveness of the pain I was carrying. It did some but the weight was still heavy.
As we rode across this country and the stories, each morning of healing were being told that only pressed more heavily on my own shoulders. Each morning my story seem so insignificant. I still was seeing faces, voices and her lifeless face cradled in my arms. How can this ride help me find peace.
But as we rode I developed a routine I began looking for that morning hug, that long embrace like the quilt I was given a few years past. I began to feel alive and not just existing. I began to dismantle the walls I had built. It wasn’t just one wall it is walls within walls. Cracks were appearing that I no longer need to fill in, to purge. I began to dismantle them myself.
In my world I am everyone’s rock, the go to guy. At work I was known as the fixer, the guy that can straighten things out. But to me that is a heavy responsibility and add in the primary caregiver for your spouses failing health I was at a breaking point I did not have to tools to cope with. The day after the ride was done and everyone had dispersed is when it hit me.
Alone in my hotel room I began to read my father’s obituary I had written and to say thank you to everyone. I broke down, dropped to my knees and openly cried. For my father I gave thanks for the man that I became. For those soldiers we lost I am in less pain. For the 12 yr old blue eyed girl in her blue summer dress, Ashley who died in my arms I hope you rest easy. For Allen my friend who committed suicide the day my father passed I, I’m not sure if forgiveness is the right word but I have found acceptance in your pain and hope you are at peace.
So what did I get out of this ride? Some closure, some tools and an appointment with a sociologist tomorrow. I would add this and it is from my words in my father’s eulogy
Three word’s that should be the easiest to say but are the hardest to say. Even today I find them hard to say but know they must be spoken, spoken without hesitation.
“I love you”
Thank you to this family, The Rolling Barrage.
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
I became aware of The Rolling Barrage in 2019 when Warren and I became a couple. He told me about this ride that he had been a part of and it was bringing awareness and breaking the stigma of PTSD amongst first responders, veterans and serving members. I thought what an awesome idea as so many suffer from mental illness and don’t talk about it.
I had never been on a motorcycle until 2019 and in 2021 I met Warren in Winnipeg to complete the rest of the ride with him as he was completing the Full Pull. In my mind I was there to support Warren as I knew how important it was to him.
It was a very humbling experience meeting everyone. You could see the sense of camaraderie, trust and family amongst everyone. Everyone was so friendly and once I started to talk to people, I realized we have a lot in common. It may not be the same thing, but there was an understanding.
Myself I have 30 years of military service and just retired 2yrs ago. I joined the ride again in 2022, Winnipeg, to Vancouver. During this ride, I started to realize how it was helping me. I am a very quiet person and don’t like to talk about things.
Being in the medical field, I was involved in different situations throughout my career. My focus had been on work, helping my patients, helping everyone, and doing everything for everyone else. I started to see myself to be a little more open, talking to more people, and felt I was not judged.
So, in 2023, I committed to doing the FULL Pull. TRB was going to NL which was home, and we would do it together. As we rode across the country, I found the bond between the Full Pull crew was next level. The trust and sense of family that you form was second to none. A hug was a must in the morning and or throughout the day if needed.
In 2023, I felt I needed to do and contribute more to TRB as I had witnessed how it had helped so many people, including myself. There was talk of Jim managing the merchandise. I said to Warren he cannot do that as he has too many hats already.
So, Warren and I decided that we would take on the merchandise for TRB. During the ride, the selling of merchandise was very busy but rewarding in hearing the stories from the riders and general public about the reasons they wanted to support TRB. It made my heart smile.
I am forever grateful to Warren and my new TRB family for the support they have provided me. If you are thinking about participating in the ride but are not sure if it’s a good fit, just come out and see, even if it’s for a couple of days. If you don’t ride, you can come as a passenger like me or drive your vehicle.
On the top of my bucket list was to ride my bike across Canada.
While working at Highland Valley Copper mines I met Scott and Leslie. When I heard of Scott’s plan to ride coast to coast to bring awareness to PTSD, I thought it was a great idea! And I wanted to join up to support the cause. Unfortunately in 2017, I could not get the time off of work🙁
My grandfather was in WW1, my dad in WW2, in London when it got bombed, ( he suffered from’Shell Shock’). One of my brothers went into the Navy right out of high school.
I lost all 5 brothers between 1974-1994, one to suicide. At the time I was dating a veteran who had done 3 tours to Vietnam, and he really suffered with PTSD. I felt so helpless and so desired to learn more…
The ride seem like a good place to learn.
So 2018 I signed up to do the Full Pull! I was SO excited and very nervous…how am I and my Pink bike going to fit in with a bunch of serious looking dudes with big black bikes?? What a pleasure and honour to meet so many wonderful people, very kind and so helpful! ( Pinkie had some issues the first couple of days). They just accepted me and my lil Pink bike.
We started every morning with a story and dedication, me in tears…I was so humbled by the many heart wrenching stories of those who could not live with their demons.
This just confirmed in my heart that I wanted to help more. Within days these strangers became friends I truly cared about, and in 3 weeks I loved them like family. 2018 Full Pull , Halifax to Victoria, personal growth in many areas. An epic adventure!
I started fundraising to help TRB, it’s fun and gave me purpose. 2019, I rode in 3 provinces, and Sheila got to shave my head🙃
2020, 2022 rode thru 2 provinces. 2021, I was evacuated for 9 days missing the ride but got to say hello to everyone in Kelowna.
This year 2023, I was able to sign up for the Full Pull again, ( always wanted to go to Newfoundland!) so fun to reconnect with so many and meet new people, my family is growing!
This year I was asked to be a TailGunner, Pinkie did me proud! It was such a privilege to be part of the safety crew! And were we ever tested! Heavy rainfalls, extreme heat, catching a chest cold, smoke from wildfires, it just brought us closer and we all worked so well together.
A handful of us were asked to whip into Trail, to pick up water for Kelowna evacuees…
I was in awe and almost in tears again when I heard our lead TG say,”I took an oath to serve”. Wow! In typical military style we had the trailer loaded with 3 pallets of water, hand bombed in minutes! Truly amazing! I love these men with their big compassionate hearts that just want to help make this world a better place.
I am so blessed to be part of the Rolling Barrage and ride across our beautiful country, just grateful beyond words! I can not wait to see my family again next year, a family I love and trust and respect deeply. Each one having something precious to offer. Many I will keep in contact with throughout the year, they are family!
(Oh, and I got to cross off another bucket list item!! A ride in a limo!!)
Hope to see you all next year!
I’ve been asked to put some thoughts together about my experience on my first full pull with TRB. A tough ask for someone with the attention span of a knat, but come with me on my version of my journey thus far…
My first involvement with TRB was in 2020 when I was first introduced to this group by another Firefighter, Rob Milne, he had done a few legs the year before and made some friends and told me about this group and I would probably find it a good fit and a way to see what it was all about.
That year I met some people who have now become brothers and sisters to me, it also made me realize that I certainly wasn’t the only one having some intrusive thoughts and feelings. Soon after my ride, I realized that I needed some help, and made that call. Life altering to say the least!
I made it my goal to promote this ride to whomever would listen to me, and can attest, some people are probably tired of listening to me! I’m unapologetic, and will continue!
Haven’t missed a year of riding with this organization, and each year make new friends and renew bonds with returning brothers and sisters!
Fast forward to 2023, my wife was the one who suggested that I do the ‘Full Pull ‘ after getting over the shock of her support of this ride, she doesn’t like motorcycles in the least! The preparations began!
The support we have received from numerous business has been overwhelming, from shipping bikes, to Legion support, it made this a trip that I could afford to do.
From my arrival in St John’s, being met by people who made me feel welcome and appreciated, the adventure of my lifetime was beginning! Riding began as it always does, people finding their group and welcoming in new riders into those groups, the preliminary day rides were great to get us all “Thinking Bike” again, some of us hadn’t been on our bikes since they were shipped! Our provincial reps had put routes in place to let us see amazing landmarks and quiet little places that not a lot of us would have seen by ourselves. And this happened across Canada.
From my years previous, I always watched the Full Pull riders, you can see them, they act a little different than the ones who join for a few legs, or just a ride through their hometown. Don’t get me wrong, they have always been welcoming to anyone who rides for however long with the group, but this year I found out what it was all about. The bonds formed across Canada can’t be quantified, and it’s special. Handshakes just won’t do, it’s always a hug, BIG HUGS! And they’re truly from the heart!
The bonds formed through adversity are always stronger than ones formed through easy times.
These people went to wars, some on foreign soil, some in their towns and cities, and all have come back changed. This group understands and supports eachother, like no other group I have found.
I gave my commitment to doing the Full Pull of The Rolling Barrage back in January and started preparing for the ride, hotel booking and routes east to the start point.
We had a very busy summer leading up to the departure date for St John’s Nfld, so my mind was preoccupied with ensuring that I left my spouse (Sandra) set for the month I would be away.
As the days came closer, I found myself preparing as though I was deploying and not really getting the anxiety of meeting so many new people and the fact of riding across our great nation twice in a 30-day period.
Once TRB 2023 was on it’s way and I was meeting all the strangers and riding for a few days those strangers became friends and by the time we reached Burnaby we all developed a close bond that will continue forever.
Reflecting back on my overall experience that words cannot describe how life changing my experience was and I’m forever grateful. Through the various events and presentations and the ride itself, The Rolling Barrage gave me the chance to really start a healing process where I could relieve myself of the unwanted burdens and stress that have been building for over a decade and even throughout my lifetime.
I also found that the camaraderie amongst all the TRB participants and the Full Pullers in particular was a very needed and welcomed piece, as that feeling was lost when I was medically released and could no longer be active in the sports I had previously enjoyed.
This was my very first time participating in The Rolling Barrage, I haven’t completed a single leg with TRB prior to this year so being asked to be part of the Safety Team as a Tailgunner was a huge honour which I readily accepted.
This task kept me focused and dialed in to every aspect of my journey. I noticed as my journey progressed I was less and less focused on my aches & pains and my medications to the point that I had stopped taking my pharmaceuticals completely and my medical cannabis use drastically decreased, however, my mind was getting clearer and my body was becoming less painful and stronger.
Through all the obstacles that came before us, all the rainy days, the heat bowl of southern Alberta or the wildfires in BC and the fact of successfully conquering the challenge of riding a motorcycle in an enormous group across our great nation restored a ton of self confidence, pride and gave me a renewed sense of purpose.
I am forever grateful for my new TRB family and recommend that anyone and everyone try to participate in whatever way you can…you’ll not regret it.
The Rolling Barrage
It IS the key to helping you, me and others reconnect with themselves and what was and should still be important in our lives. A life changed by debris from our service to our country.
Some refer to it as PTSD, others as OSI…. Either way, it can be a beast and seems to never quit. It leeches its way into all aspects of your life. Irritability, hyper vigilance, tremors, terrors, sleep disruption….. if you aren’t affected, you’re still welcome here. If you are affected, you belong more than you may think right now.
In 2017, I had a chance meeting at a birthday party for a friend. I was introduced to Scott Casey and his lovely gal Leslie. It was a passing introduction and we never really conversed. Fate started its work.
A short while later, fires lit up our BC community, we were evacuated and I was laid off work.
My wife was reading about a motorcycle ride crossing Canada and a guy named Casey that was doing it for veterans and PTSD. A little research confirmed that the Casey fellow was in fact the Scott Casey that we had just met.
She said to me that I had the time, so I should ride with them. We made it happen, and I then met Scott Casey for the second first time in Clearwater, BC. I rode to Kamloops with the group and had dinner.
I am a first responder. 30+ years of policing under my belt. The TRB cause was noble, but I was a retired cop, not military personnel. I remember phoning my wife that evening and telling her that “I wasn’t feeling it”.
That there was a very heavy military presence, and I wasn’t sure that I belonged.
I had registered to ride to Victoria, so I showed up the next day and rode to Chilliwack with them.
I met some awesome people that day and they accepted me like one of their own. I had dinner with them, laughed, told stories and shared a room with 2 fabulous young men (Jamie and Alex) in the hotel.
I phoned my wife again and told her that I DID belong. I felt it. I’m tearing up as I type this because of that memory.
The next day we rode to Victoria and had a fun, albeit a bit of a crazy evening closing out the inaugural ride. That was the start….. I belonged and they got me. Scott actually referred to me as switched on and I wondered how long my switch had been turned off.
Since 2018, I’ve been the National Police Liaison, have ridden 3 full pulls and another partial.
I had major surgery in 2020 so that year and 2021, I worked in the background. I was a member of the Board for MMI and TRB during my time, helping and watching TRB mature and grow.
Medical issues may preclude me from riding in the future, but TRB will always be a part of me and has helped me remain grounded. I have found me again and have begun my healing or “management” journey with the strength I’ve gained from TRB.
I’ve gathered a new larger family that are not all first responders!!
Although, on that front I’ve had meetings and communicated with leadership of the RCMP, Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, Halifax Regional, Miramachi, Fredericton, Sûreté du Québec, OPP, Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay, Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw, Medicine Hat, Calgary and Alberta Sheriffs Police Agencies. We have their buy in and support each year as we pass through their area of jurisdiction. I have gained life-long friends through this journey.
Feedback has ranged from a simple thank you to letters of praise for our efforts to help and support the first responder community.
We are making a difference, never doubt that. I’ll see you on the road in some capacity.
TRB, is the family that you never knew you had. A family that just knows, will not judge and will help you find the you that has been missing. As a supervisor in policing, I always signed off “Be Safe”. TRB will help you “Be Safe” and healthy as we battle this beast together.
Love to my new family. Thank you for your time, love and understanding during our travels together. I’ll never forget you.
2023 is my fourth year with TRB, having moved from my initial one day ride to this year’s “Full Pull”.
It wasn’t until 2022, when I did the ride from Halifax to North Bay, that I finally “got it”. This isn’t a ride solely for the purpose of raising money: this ride is also for the support and betterment of the participants. With the built-in support structure of this ride, I finally gained the courage to, for the first time in my life, speak openly about my struggles. For the first time in my life, I didn’t get a blank look when I spoke of them. For the first time in my life, I got responses of, “I’ve been there, brother.”, “Any time you want to talk….” and “C’mere, you need a hug” (which at first, between burly, leather-clad men, seemed a bit imposing).
This is an annual meeting of the closest bonds I’ve ever made, which CANNOT help but bring a smile to my face and a tear to my eyes. This is the camaraderie that I miss in civilian life.
I summarize the conduct of the ride itself to the uninitiated this way. Think of the best organized day ride in which you’ve ever participated. Now, multiply that by 20 days and you have TRB. I am so impressed (and grateful) of the organization, coordination and conduct of every day of this ride. Everything is meticulously planned in advance so all I have to do is, show up. Who can ask for more than that?
The only downside I have found is that the day after the ride I’m counting down for the next one: 335 days is a long time. But, as Veterans we’re used to being away from things we cherish and need, and counting down until we return.
I guess my best way to summarize is what I recently told a colleague: “No, I don’t take my Emotional Support Animal (Labradoodle) with me: I have a parking lot full of “Emotional Support Bikers”.
I could not recommended enough to someone to take part in TRB. If you come out for a day you will be out for a great ride. If you come out for a couple of days you will be out for an experience. But if you have the guts and determination to be part of the Full Pull crew you will be a part of the most epic journey.
Seeing our great country is only a part of it but finding a family that you can know, love and trust, who will not judge but listen and who will not turn their back on you when times get tough is priceless.
PTSD may be permanent but it does not need to be life ending. Life is worth living and life for me is more enjoyable on 2 wheels. I hope to see you this year on TRB 2023.
For me, what started out as attending and supporting a friends vision in his journey to help veterans and first responders dealing with PTSD, made me come to the realization that I too struggled with the same issues not even realizing that it had already taken a foothold in my life and my family’s life. One needs to be mindful of what normal is. It’s astonishing what one person can get used to over time.
TRB is the family reunion that everyone wants to attend. It’s non judgemental recognition to its members that were inflicted with an injury due to their service. We are warm blooded human beings not robots that have to push through or suck it up. It taught me that it’s OK to not be OK.
When respectfully collaborating with other understanding members of the foundation you learn that there are tools in the tool box without triggering, or revealing your personal life.
You find out that sleep disturbances, worry, irritability, hyper vigilance, scepticism, intrusive thoughts, avoidance and loneliness are normal reactions to abnormal circumstances over time during service. What was effective then (being dialed in) during service does not apply to your personal life. It’s hard to make the switch or turn it off. Does this sound like you?
The ride offers serenity rather than worry. It displays beautiful scenery rather than intrusive memories, it offers compassion, rather than hyper vigilance and companionship instead of loneliness. It has helped and continues to help a tremendous amount of service people. The relationships are everlasting. Reach out or check us out. I have found and can maintain peace in my life.
My journey with The Rolling Barrage began in 2017 when Scott Casey asked if I could help on this “coast to coast” motorcycle ride. There was few of us in the planning group and in many ways when all was said and done collectively we did it.
I don’t ride a motorcycle but I brought an SUV and loaded it up like Jed Clampett from The Beverly Hillbillies. Tables, chairs, first aid gear, food, water, and anything else I could think of.
I met the riders in Grand Falls NB, and drove with them “in the rear with the gear” to Winnipeg MB. At that point in history I was the Provincial Lead from Quebec to Manitoba. I had a lot of time to reflect on not only what the riders may be experiencing but myself too. Like many who have served for country or community, I was not in the best of mental health. I essentially just drowned it with my work, and life in general. I had been distant for many years up to that point by many who I served with. Now I am surrounded, I can’t close a chat or end a call. I have to deal with it head on, much like the challenges of service.
In the end, I survived, and while you can say you have a life, are you living? I fully attribute The Rolling Barrage as part of my move to living. So much so, I am part of the leadership of this organization as CEO. Go figure. So if I can do it, without a motorcycle, imagine what you can do on The Rolling Barrage with one.
I’m a spouse of a veteran and first responder. When I got involved in 2018 I didn’t know a whole lot about PTSD but I knew something wasn’t right with the man I was married to for 26 years. It made me feel very helpless as a spouse to see him suffer. I didn’t understand it and didn’t have anyone to talk to who was in the same boat. And with that process I was hurting too. That changed when I got involved with TRB. I thought I was just going to help with a great cause and had no idea that I was about to gain a whole new family who means so much to me. I got hope.
What really spoke to me was an approach to learn to live with PTSD. After years of comparing himself with others for trauma and not feeling deserving, it took the ride in 2019 for my husband to reach out for help. Trauma is trauma is trauma and the cause is different for everyone. It took conversations on the ride for him to understand that which was the start of healing.
Because of the ride I no longer feel helpless and I feel immense gratitude. I don’t want to call TRB a support network as to me that doesn’t even come close to what it is. I was adopted by a family of brothers and sisters who lean on each other beyond the three weeks of the ride in August. We have deep conversations, we cry together but we also have a lot of laughs and fun together in our mission. We are a motley crue family and I love every part of our motley crue family reunion.
Maybe you are a spouse, son, daughter, mother, father etc who can relate. Maybe you are a service member who is trying to figure out whether you need help. If you don’t think you need it maybe your family does. You must place the oxygen mask first before assisting others.
Hopefully I’m able to pay forward what TRB has given me.
When I first heard about Scott Casey’s far fetched scheme about a Coast to Coast motorcycle ride in 2016 I didn’t think much about it, I didn’t even have a bike at the time. The last bike I owned was a 1987 Honda Hurricane 1000 that I bought new. I had only ridden once since the birth of my Daughter in 1989.
As 2016 wore on, I heard more and more about this “Epic” ride and saw more and more friends from back in the day talking about joining in for part of it. By March 2017 I knew I had to be part of this but still didn’t have a bike.
My first decision was easy; what bike? Well a 1987 Honda Hurricane 1000 of course. A few months on Kijiji and I had one on the way to Alberta from Ontario.
I rode from Lloydminster to Kamloops with the inaugural run and my Son Tyler joined me from Edmonton. Having Tyler join and meet so many AMAZING people was incredible for me, seeing him interact and get a glimpse of what makes “Dad” tick was priceless but when he mentioned joining for a longer ride the next year and always making an effort to join each year since has left me feeling truly blessed.Later sharing the ride with my Girlfriend and 30+ year Veteran Theresa has been amazing for us both.
I’ve ridden ever increasing distances every year (Except of course 2020), completed Full Pulls 2021 & 2022 and I will do another in 2023.
Meeting all the great people and hearing their stories has been humbling, there are so many that have given so much without asking for anything. Re-connecting with many old friends along the way has been a gift, we’ve picked up right where we left off without missing a beat 25+ years later.
I find there’s a level of trust when speaking with people who have similar experiences, it’s easy to discuss difficult topics without judgment. Whether they are still Serving, Veterans or First Responders, we all have a story. Seeing and hearing those stories has shown me the true value and magic of this ride.
If you’ve ever thought about doing this ride, stop wondering. This is the Family you didn’t know you had, the experience you never knew you needed.
In 2018 I was informed that a guy I knew and served with was going to be overnighting in a place just outside of Edmonton Alberta, on his way across Canada on a motorcycle ride to raise money and awareness for the so called PTSD injury.
This guy, I mentioned, and I served together, along with a lot more men, in the former Yugoslavia on Roto 0.
I would eventually reconnect with a lot of those men because of this ride, we call The Rolling Barrage. I apologize ladies I got out as women were entering the infantry, but since that time a lot of women infantry have served.
My intention was to surprise this guy just outside of Edmonton, but what Scott Casey had organized ended up surprising me.
Until joining TRB in 2018 I thought I was your typical pissed off grumpy veteran, I knew nothing about PTSD. After spending only 3 days with The Rolling Barrage,the Alberta legs, and talking to those on the ride, I started to question my way of thinking and the way I treated people.
One month after those 3 days, and yelling at my son yet again, I phoned Mental Health and Addiction in my town.
I started to see a Phycologist in September of 2018 and was diagnosed with PTSD in January 2019 that was caused from things I had witnessed and things done to me on that tour in 1992.
I’ve been on every ride since 2018 in some fashion. 2019 I did the “Full Pull” and was asked to be a Tailgunner.
2020 I did the Western Bubble, thanks covid. Joined the Board of Directors in 2021 as well as being Lead Bike and Chief Operations Officer for 2021 and 2022.
You may ask why I continue to ride with The Rolling Barrage every year. All that really just says you haven’t spent enough time riding with us.
The Rolling Barrage is a family, a community that DOES NOT JUDGE, DOES NOT treat you as an outsider. The Rolling Barrage is a welcoming hug.
Why do I continue to come back? I come back to help people look in a mirror and say “hey you in there, it’s okay to be you, no matter what, we’ve got this.”
I come back to help maybe that one person the way The Rolling Barrage helped me.
I thru my leg over the saddle after reuniting with a brother on The Rolling Barrage 3 years ago in Barrie, Ontario.
The following year I did a day ride with them as they rolled through Barrie.
Last year (2022) I did Kingston, ON to Sault Ste Marie, ON, and this year (2023) I’m doing the Full Pull.
The Rolling Barrage change my life. It gave me back more than I can ever explain. After that first reconnect, I reconnected with the boys from P-Coy – 3 RCR, in what has turned into P-Coy Fall-Ex.
My wife noticed a change almost overnight. To a point where she insisted I do Fall-Ex the next year.
Reconnecting with my old brothers gave me purpose/family. Had I not reconnected, things would be a lot different today.
Reconnecting put me in contact with James Gordon, which put me in contact with Lloyd Farmer and started reopening VAC cases.