Elevate November 2019

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NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION FORGOTTEN NOT GONE HELPS MILITARY VETS COMBAT POST-SERVICE CHALLENGES ONE TRIKE RIDE AT A TIME By Josh Kashoff

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On a hot night in midSeptember, a crew of 10 from the non-profit Forgotten Not Gone allowed me to join them on their signature physical activity, a group ride made up of their posse of velomobile recumbent tricycles. The 12-mile ride began at 8:30 p.m. at Patriot Park and then headed to Craig Ranch Regional Park and through the suburbs of North Vegas ending well past 11 p.m. As I rode beside the military veterans of Forgotten Not Gone, I felt the almost ever-present personal anxiety about intense physical activities and possible injuries float away, allowing me to be fully mentally in control of my thoughts and surroundings and physically in control of a tricycle that’s surprisingly easy to operate. Because of its recumbent position and aerodynamics, pedaling a velomobile requires less energy than a normal bicycle. The testimonies from the accompanying veterans on the ride proved that I wasn’t alone in my feelings of personal fulfillment. “They’re a veteran organization that actually works for veterans,” says Navy veteran Nelson Ramirez of Forgotten Not Gone (FNG), “and as you can see, they have the tools to get veterans out of that isolation and depression. They could be at home feeling sorry for themselves and

thinking of hurting themselves, or they could come out here and ride a trike with somebody who’s been through what they’ve been through and can relate to what’s going on.” More heartbreakingly often than not, veterans face many challenges when returning home from serving their country. Most times there’s crippling mental or physical illnesses due to their taxing time in the military which makes living a simple life nearly impossible. Or there’s the stress of relying on a government branch that’s understaffed, overwhelmed, or otherwise unable to assist the number of struggles and traumas that our heroes face after serving. Depression, alcoholism and other types of substance abuse is also

rife among the rank of former military vets. Painful loneliness mixed with dangerously unstable mental health and suicidal ideologies are also unfortunate realities for countless veterans across America. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs simply can’t handle providing the necessary assistance for dealing with the aftermath of the horrors of war that so many veterans face on a daily basis.