American Legion Department of Indiana
Indianapolis – A new, unique program has been endorsed by The American Legion, Department of Indiana to help our fellow veterans to assist them in their transition and reintegration into life after deployments and military service. Program is called Operation Combat Bikesaver, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization ran by Post 9/11 veterans.
Operation Combat Bikesaver is a play on the term “Combat Lifesaver,” a course provided by the Armed Forces to train service members to administer first-aid to their comrades under fire.
The program is a workshop for veterans and first responders suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury and Depression, or a combination thereof. The workshop includes trained individuals skilled in various areas of motorcycle fabrication, restoration, and customization and provides a “big brother” of sorts, therapeutic environment to participating candidates.
The OCB team is comprised of likeminded individuals, many of whom share similar experiences as veterans and first responders. The team builds a rapport and comradery with candidates, working together to rebuild and refurbish a motorcycle. Once the project is completed by the candidate, the bike is theirs to keep or donate to another candidate of their choosing.
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“It’s a great opportunity to get our younger vets involved,” said Past 2015-2016 2nd District Cmdr. Ron Hoaks. “Veterans have a past time with motorcycles, and our latest generation of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are struggling with PTSD, TBI and Depression at record numbers.
“We still have 22 veterans committing suicide every day. This program helps our veterans regain their sense of accomplishment. They can build a comradery with others that have been in their shoes. I’m proud of our Indiana Legion for approving this resolution and endorsing this great group of guys at Operation Combat Bikesaver.”
There are no limitations on veteran or wartime status. Candidates must be a veteran or first responder seeking relief from PTSD, TBI or Depression. Candidates for OCB do not need prior mechanical experience.
“A lot of these candidates have never picked up a wrench before or turned a screwdriver,” said Albert Parr, former OCB board member and American Legion member of William Chizum Post 146 in Morocco, Ind. “But we’re doing it together, working as a team, and they’re picking up a new skill.”
At its core, the program analogously rehabilitates both motorcycle and veteran simultaneously.
“Some of us feel useless after taking off the uniform, like anything we do next will never compare,” Parr said. “We take that tarnished, beat-up motorcycle that somebody discarded, and we work together to turn it back into a well-oiled machine. The veteran and the bike breathe new life back into each other.”
Those candidates that complete the program have the opportunity to continue the mentorship process and share what they’ve learned with new candidates just starting.
“By sharing their newly obtained skills combined with a restored comradery truly gives a sense of security and brotherhood to our fellow veterans and first responders,” said Operation Combat Bikesaver president Jason Zaideman, and American Legion member at Post 261 in Cedar Lake, Ind. “Here at OCB we would love nothing more than to show you how to obtain that happiness through creative projects in a likeminded, veteran and first responder family atmosphere. No one gets left behind.”
To learn more about how to support Operation Combat Bikesaver, or to apply to become a candidate in the program, visit www.combatbikesaver.org.
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