Motorcyclists ride for 24 hours to raise PTSD awareness

Meghin Moore, special to wtop.com

ARLINGTON, Va. – About a dozen motorcycle riders roared out of the parking lot by the Air Force Memorial Saturday morning to start a 24-hour ride to raise awareness for the war wounds never seen, namely post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain Injury.

Pentagon statistics released Friday show suicides of active duty troops are at the highest rate in the last decade of war, and the groups involved in the “Ride Around the Clock” want to reach out to veterans and their families to give them extra support.

“We’re going to ride for 24 hours. It’s going to be a little painful, but these guys are going to be suffering for a long time and the least we can do is ride and raise money,” said ride captain Dennis Markle.

He jokes the group have “iron butts” that will hold them through the 1,000-mile trip through parts of Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

“Our main focus is to get the guy out of the basement,” Markle says.

His wife Lisa Markle, wearing a vest adorned with 170 beaded names of service members who have died within the past year, has noticed that the suicide rate is “phenomenal.”

The service members aren’t the only ones affected.

Army wife Kristy Kaufmann says there is a critical need to help military family members.

“There are actually family members and children that are taking their own lives,” she says.

The group is riding to raise money to support service members and their families, and to show them that they are not alone.

The group will return Sunday morning at the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, ending its “Ride Around the Clock.” They are scheduled to arrive at 9:30 a.m.

WTOP’s Max Smith contributed to this report. Follow Max Smith and WTOP on Twitter.

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