Jeremy Staat waged war on the college and pro gridirons, and even as a member of the United States Marine Corps.
He’s now going to battle for his military brothers and sisters in a whole new way: he’s taking it to the streets.
Staat, along with United States Army veteran Wesley Barrientos, have started the “Wall-to-Wall Cross Country Bicycle Ride,” which began on February 19, in Staat’s hometown on Bakersfield, Calif.
With the Ride, Staat is hoping to bring attention to veterans’ issues, such as suicide prevention, health care, childhood obesity and the promotion of education.
“We’re trying to ignite the spirit of unity throughout this country,” Staat said shortly after he and Barrientos arrived at the Arizona State campus on Thursday.
Staat noted that the United States loses 18 veterans each day to suicide, which is 18 more than the country should be losing daily.
“We’re tired of seeing our guys dying,” Staat said.
Barrientos lost both of his legs in 2007, after his vehicle struck an explosive device. He was on his third tour of Iraq when this horrific event occurred.
Barrientos arrived in a bike specifically designed for double-amputees. His arms did all the work for him.
Barrientos is not the kind of guy to elicit sorrow from friends, family and strangers for the situation he was given. Instead he embraced it and decided to turn a negative into a positive, and uses his experience as a teaching tool for others.
“It’s not about me,” Barrientos said. “It’s about earning my right to be alive.”
Staat and Barrientos will continue on their trek to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., which they’re planning to reach on Memorial Day.
The entire trip will take 100 days, and the men will cover 4,623 miles.
“To be able to ride across this country, and in the manner in which we’re doing it is amazing,” Staat said.