Those who bravely died in battle may be at the front of our minds on Memorial Day, but one organization spends all year making sure veterans have a good quality of life.
It’s a program that gets veterans going who may not have access to a vehicle or public transportation.
“I can go from here to the grocery store quicker than you probably can in a vehicle because of traffic conditions,” Robert McMichael told us before releasing his kick stand on his bicycle and going on to his next destination.
Once that takes place he’s unstoppable.
The veteran told us, “I use my bike to go to the grocery store to get groceries. I go to the Walmart. I use the bike to go to church.”
ForcesUnited puts bikes in the hands of both of its men and women clients. Bikes are received by the organization through donations. Veteran Advocate Rick Herring tells us the organization provides vets with basic transportation in order to get a job and keep it. He added the program is an adjunct to its four basic programs on housing, education, employment and benefits.
Eunice Grant works for Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center and takes her bike on all of her errands.
“My bike allows me to go shopping,” she said adding that she has even gone as far as two miles from the VA Medical Center to Augusta Mall. “I like to go to the Bi-Lo up the street. It takes me to the library. Exercise is another reason that I wanted it.”
Grant and other veterans around the CSRA have received their bikes and are, indeed, on the move. It comes in handy too, Grant said, when public transportation does not.
“Because of the bus system here in Augusta, they don’t run on Sunday and Saturday has a two-hour schedule. It was more convenient to have a bike to get around town. More mobility.”
Sure, it’s hot outside, but the vets said they benefit by dodging traffic, especially on Wrightsboro Road where there is construction. Riding also helps them stay in shape.
“I’m 55 years old and it’s been a little bit of change for me, a little bit of a transition process because of not being in the shape I should be in, but I’ve been on this bike for over two years and I’m in pretty decent shape as far as that goes,” McMichael said.
“It was challenging at first, but I’m getting the hang of it. I’m 54, but once you learn to ride a bike you really never forget.”
Anyone wanting to participate in the bike program must complete two basic things, according to Herring:
1) Call ForcesUnited at 706-951-7506 and get connected as a client.
2) Provide a DD-214