Los Angeles, CA — (April 13, 2020) – Combat Vet Jake Ruch set off from the Welcome to Las Vegas sign on the south end of the strip Saturday morning to ride 300 miles to Los Angeles—in three days. Originally planned as a ride across America, visiting Major League Baseball games along the way, Ruch adapted to the corona-19 virus pandemic by changing the starting and finishing points, but not the mission.
Ruch, who served in Iraq, wants to raise public awareness of mental health issues many returning veterans face as they transition back into civilian life and after. He and his comrade-in-arms Aaron Peeples contacted the National Veterans Foundation during the training months before the ride, selecting the NVF as the major veterans charity to receive donations they raised. When Peeples had to drop out because of injury, Ruch felt it was important to complete the mission because, “During this time of panic and isolation, veterans’ mental health becomes even more of an issue. We would like to send a message out to all vets to keep your head up and keep pushing! One thing Coronavirus hasn’t taken from us so far is our ability to get out and exercise. If you are a veteran struggling with PTSD don’t forget, exercise is a key component in keeping your mind right.”
NVF President and Founder Shad Meshad said, “This long-distance ride requires the same training, dedication, and commitment that Jake depended on during his deployment to Iraq. And in fact, during his transition out of the military. Jake’s concern for his fellow veterans is another aspect of his integrity and humanity, something we need a lot more of. We’re very proud and honored to have been selected to partner with Jake. We wish him the best, especially up that long, long climb up out of Las Vegas to the summit at the Cajon Pass.”
Ruch will ride across the Los Angeles basin to arrive at the iconic Santa Monica Pier, now closed because of Covid-19. In an ideal situation, he’d meet the NVF team on the pier against the backdrop of the Pacific. But Jake’s not the kind of guy to let a less-than-ideal setting get in his way. He’ll meet Shad and the team as close to the pier as they can get.
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The worst part of war should not be coming home.