Ride revs up the PTSD conversation

THE second annual PTSD Baton Ride arrived in Sale on Saturday, with the Shepherds, a non-profit group, and local Red Knights aiming to raise awareness of post traumatic stress disorder.

The riders stopped at Sale RSL, receiving a heroes’ welcome, as well as a cheque to support Whiskey’s Wish, a charity that trains and provides post traumatic stress disorder assistance dogs.

The group also presented a plaque to RSL president Geoff Newby, recognising support for last year’s ride.

This year’s ride left from the Vietnam Veterans Museum at Phillip Island, travelling to Canberra to the National War Museum, before meeting other riders in Grantville for a mass ride to the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Riders will carry the PTSD baton, symbolising the burden carried by sufferers every day, which is kept at the National Vietnam Veterans Museum. It also shows that the only way to deal with PTSD is to share the load as a team, as represented by the baton being passed.

Shepherds founder Dean ‘Bear’ Marks said it was important to recognise the effect of PTSD in veterans and in the emergency services, and advocate for more to be done by government to support them.

“People come out very broken, and the government’s keen to send people away, either to war or combat in our streets — but they’re not that flash at looking after them when they break,” he said.

“These are the issues we need to bring to the public, and that’s what the PTSD baton is about.

“We don’t have a flag to walk behind for those people who came back alive but broken.”

Mr Newby added it was impressive to see the Shepherd’s PTSD Baton Ride grow from last year, with the group raising more than $5000.

“This group of rough looking bikers showed up and we immediately struck up a great friendship and were able to give them $200 last year for PTSD awareness,” he said.

“They’ve gone onto bigger and better things, and we’ve kept that link going.

“It’s terrific to help veterans, and these guys have a link with younger veterans, which is something we’ve been struggling to get.”

Mr Marks said the links between the community groups would improve support for people who needed it.

“We’ve got people here who are part of the Shepherds supporter base, and the Red Knights, and Sale RSL’s been a big supporter … the community of Sale need to know how much these guys do,” he said.

“Our job is to bring those groups together that weren’t talking and unify them, bring back those community values we once had.”

To follow the Shepherds or donate to Whiskey’s Wish, visit give.everydayhero.com/au/shepherds-australia-ptsd-batonride-2018.