TRIP 2011

Update #16 - July 05th
Nevada, Iowa
2,436.30 miles (3,898.08 KM)

The Fourth of July Weekend has come and gone. Sunday, July 03rd, I spent the afternoon and evening in the small town of Osceola in South Central Iowa. I got to take part in a local hometown festival taking place in the courtyard square. There were amusement rides to look at, the smells of the different foods being served, kids of all ages taking part in a pedal-powered tractor pull, and teams of area firemen in duals of battling firehoses trying to move a metal barrel along a stretched out wire line above their heads in a contest similiar to tug-of-war.

 amusement ride

 pedal-powered tractor pull

 fire house tug of war

Monday night, July 04th, I was in Indianola, Iowa and I got to watch the town's fireworks a few hours after dusk.


This afternoon, I rode through the small town of Cambridge, Iowa between Ames and Des Moines. I took several pictures of the mural that was on a side wall of one of the downtown building. It was a military themed mural and the theme was "Freedom Is Never Free" .

 building mural - freedom is never free

Looking at it brought back in mind a military personnel who I met in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma back on June 16th. It's hard not forgetting this meeting. As I was coming to an intersection on Western Avenue a few blocks west of the downtown area, I happened to see a guy sitting down on some sidewalk next to a street light holding up a sign that said "Homeless Vet - Needs Help". It also said "Recently discharged Marine". As part of my ministry whenever I see somebody who looks like they need a meal, I will stop, ask them if they are hungry, and give them some food from my food pannier that I call a roaming food pantry.

The guy told me that his name was Tim and he had been discharged from the Marines in San Diego just three months ago. He was trying to get back to West Virginia but I don't know how he landed up in Oklahoma City. Tim just about gulped down without chewing the couple of peanut butter sandwiches that I made for him . He told me that this was the first food that he had in two days. I gave him some more food that he didn't have to cook and he said that he would eat it later on and save some for tomorrow.

Along with the food, I gave him the liter bottle of water that I had strapped to the back of my recumbent. Tim pretty well swallowed the whole bottle in several large gulps. He was pretty thirsty and this might have been his first and only liquid that he had all day. The temperature was in the low 90s even though it was after 6 PM. Tim told me that he tried to get some water and ice from a couple of gas stations in the area but they wouldn't give him any because they saw him pan-handling in the area.

For about twenty minutes, I stayed with Tim with the cars and trucks going passed us. I thought that it was my job to be a listening ear and to try and give him some support. Tim told me that he had been staying under an overpass a few hundred feet away for the past couple of days and he was trying to sleep with just a thin sheet to wrap himself up. He just had a few possessions in a small backpack that he kept next to him.

I just sat down by him. At one point, he asked me to pray for him and I put one arm around his shoulder. While praying for him, Tim started to cry but he quickly stopped and he said that Marines shouldn't show emotion like this.

Tim told me that he had been recently discharged from the Marines just three months ago. He was in the battles in Afghanistan and Iraq. Tim must have been either in his late twenties or early thirties but he acted like he had been on this earth for several more decades. He told me that he was ashamed to say that during his tours of duty he had taken the lives of over 150 people.

He was really suffering from Post Traumatic Stress. Tim said that the veteran's administration gave him a small amount of psychologic help and they gave him some psych medicine but he didn't like taking it because he said that they messed up his mind more than what it was now. Tim said that he didn't like going to the veteran's hospital because all they seemed to want to do is to give him more medicine.

I can't understand why the military didn't help him out more. I've read about this and I've meet a couple of just-returned vets before but I still cannot understand what is going on. Here Tim had gone through years of training learning how to kill but he wasn't given any kind of de-programming on how not to kill and to live in normal society away from the military and battles of war. It was like Tim was just a tool for the military that could just be thrown away when it showed signs of being worn out.

This encounter with Tim really got to me. Here I was on my way to a place where I would be spending the night with a bed and a shower and all Tim had to look out for was a spot on the dirty concrete below the underpass with all of the noise of the traffic going passed above him. When I got to the place where I was spending the night, I spent most of the night before going to bed trying to come up with some resources for Tim. I made a decision that tomorrow morning I would back-track my route and see how Tim made it through the night.

I got on the internet and did some research on what resources were out there that could give Tim the help that he so much needed. I had a long talk with the guy who would be my new boss over the winter in Shreveport, LA. Jee was a gunnery sergeant. Also, I talked to several counselors on crisis hot lines and I learned that there was an agency a few blocks away from where I met Tim that has resources like free camping gear, clothing, and food. The agency has yearly events called "Operation Troop Stand-down" where homeless vets can attend and get hooked up with the resources that they need. I also learned that the local veterans hospital has a social worker who has a team of outreach volunteers who go out onto the streets and meets the homeless vets on their own turf instead of having the homeless vets go to the hospital to meet with the social worker.

In the morning, I back-tracked several miles to see if I could meet up with Tim again and tell him what I had found out. When I got to the intersection where we had met, Tim wasn't around. There were two people staying under the underpass but neither one was Tim. An hour later, I was able to call up the social worker at the veteran's hospital and give her all of the information that I had learned from Tim and his last known location. The social worker thanked me for the information and she told me that her outreach team will make the effort to locate Tim and give him the help that he needed. I really hope that in these past two weeks Tim has gotten the help that he needs and hopefully he is back home in West Virginia. I can only hope and pray that this is the case.

 G-D Bless Our Troops

Whenever you come across a military person whether they be a retired veteran or one who is active, please take the time to go to them and to thank them verbally for their service to the country. As a quote says on the building mural "Freedom Is Never Free". We just seem to take the lives of the people who volunteered to protect us for granted.

 Eagle with U.S. Flag

As I have mentioned in these past couple of updates, I have decided that this year's mission trip will be more of service to others instead of just riding. I'm not going for high number of miles. If I ride just 4,000 or 5,000 miles (6,000 Kilometers to 8,000 Kilometers). this year that will be okay. My plans will be returning to Shreveport, Louisiana and volunteering with the Fuller Center For Housing of NW Louisiana in Shreveport again. I will possibly be there from possibly October or November of this year to possibly March or April of next year. Shreveport will become my new homebase.

I will keep everybody abreast through upcoming updates. Usually, I try and add a new update every two weeks along the way so the next one will be around July 19th, 2011.



Bicyclist in Sunset



All Written Material unless specified is by Rev. Johannes Myors
No part may be reproduced without prior permission by Rev. Myors.
(Main Graphics, Logos, Photos, and Text restricted use)

Copyright: 1998 to present