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The 36-year-old Welch rode over 435 miles in four days, sometimes in hard rain. The seven-year-veteran began his ride on Veterans Day at the Springfield, Virginia, Hope For The Warriors office to Jacksonville, North Carolina and .
The Cohen Clinic at Hope For The Warriors provides confidential, high-quality behavioral health care services at little to no cost without long wait times to post-9/11 veterans, active duty service members with a TRICARE referral and military families.
“This year’s ride was humbling and difficult in a way which was different than other challenges I have done, including last year’s,” shared Welch. “Last year was a monumental challenge which took everything I had to maintain motivation; however, it was relatively easy in the day-to-day effort. The difficulty lay in maintaining it.
“The difference this year was that it wasn’t merely that I often didn’t want to ride, but that riding that many miles was physically painful. Therefore, that desire and need to support others was forefront in my mind the entirety of the four days. My physical pain seemed to be a manifestation of the psychological pain others are going through and the reason why I continued. I truly believe that with every mile I gained insight into the struggle of others, which makes it all worthwhile. I only wish that when my challenge ended so too did the struggle of others.”
In 2021 Welch challenged himself to ride 22 miles a day to bring attention to the suicide rate among veterans, which has averaged as high as 22 a day. Despite some major health issues, including back surgery, he reached his goal of 8,020 miles and raised over $1,800 for Hope For The Warriors.
In two years, Welch’s efforts have raised $5,600 for Hope For The Warriors and its programs for military families, which focus on health and wellness, sports and recreation and transition.
In 2023, Welch has plans for another awareness/fundraising event with a bicycle ride from Northern Virginia to D.C. area, this time including fellow service members as riders.
“The goal of all these events has been to do everything I could to show that there is support for military members in need,” added Welch.
“Since Hope For The Warriors started 16 years ago, we have been so fortunate to have veterans like Jake Welch, advocating for his fellow veterans and supporting our initiatives,” said Robin Kelleher, co-founder and CEO of the nonprofit. “A price cannot be put on the attention Jake is bringing to the veteran suicide problem we have in this country and his support is truly impacting the well-being of the many veterans, service members and families that HOPE serves.”
About Hope For The Warriors: Founded in 2006, Hope For The Warriors is a national nonprofit dedicated to restoring a sense of self, family and hope for post-9/11 veterans, service members and military families. Since its inception, Hope For The Warriors has served over 40,000 through a variety of support programs focused on health and wellness, sports and recreation and transition. One of the nonprofit’s first programs, Military Spouse and Caregiver Scholarships, has awarded 192 scholarships to caregivers and families of the fallen. For more information, visit , , or .