At the heart of Wheels4Change is helping struggling veterans find purpose and meaning in their lives. We help by supporting veterans that are not linked with resources, but ultimately we hope by helping them they will help other find hope. Here are the stories of a few of our veterans:
My name is Christopher Stahr and I am writing on behalf of Wheels4Change. Wheels4Change is a non-profit organization designed to help support the veterans of our committees and enable them to enrich their lives through fitness, peer mentoring and connectedness with a positive support system.
As an Army Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, I have found purpose and direction in life because of Wheels4Change. In 2011, I was dealing with PTSD and addiction and was sentenced to five years because of crimes related to my condition. When I was released I was determined to turn my life around but lacked resources and direction. That is when I met Cassie Schumacher and Wheels4Change. I very quickly became a part of a positive support network and I regained, purpose, connectedness and hope in my life. Through wheels4Change, I was empowered to help other veterans, participate in veteran support fitness events, and develop positive relationships that helped me reintegrate into society. Since then and because of the empowerment of this awesome organization I am gainfully employed in a rewarding career, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Ohio University, and I have been certified by the state of Ohio as a Peer Recovery Supporter.
I strongly believe in this organization I have witnessed miracles happen within it. We are privileged to be in a position to connect with lost, hurt, and wayward veterans and enrich their lives through fitness, purpose and camaraderie.
My name is Isaac Mastel. I was born in Jamestown, ND and grew up in a small, Midwestern town. After graduating from high school, I joined the Navy in September 1999. I worked as an Aviation Ordinanceman and then later as a Navy SEABEE in the construction battalions. I deployed 4 times with the Navy, including the invasion of Iraq in 2003. After my time in the Navy, I got out, only to sign back up for the Army in May of 2005. I volunteered for jump school and duty with the 75th Ranger Regiment. Over the next 10 years, I deployed 9 times to combat zones in Afghanistan and Iraq, conducting hundreds of time sensitive raids against known terrorists of the United States.
Eventually, the stress of deploying and working in a high paced environment got to me. I was experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. My marriage fell apart, and I began drinking and using drugs to deal with the pain. My drug addiction took control of my life. In July of 2014, after 15 years of service, I was kicked out for the use of methamphetamines. I struggled for 3 more years as a civilian before I was introduced to Wheels4Change.
When I first got involved with Wheels4Change, I was only a few weeks sober, and desperately needed help navigating through the complicated VA system. Wheels4Change helped guide me on the right path and supported me through some very rough times. I completed an intense, four-month PTSD treatment at the VA, and Wheels4Change has been there to help support me through my whole journey. Wheels4Change has given me purpose and a sense of support and comfort amongst other veterans overcoming the difficult transition of coming home.
Nicholas J Carte
United States Marine Corps veteran
Served 5 years active duty as a Motor Transport Operator
Honorable discharge in 2010
I was born in 1985 and raised in Northeast Ohio.
I am an Iraqi Freedom veteran. On May 11, 2017 during a deployment to Haditha, Iraq with the 11th Marines Truck Platoon attached to 1st Battalion 3rd Marines I was injured in an I.E.D. blast. As a direct result of that blast, I am diagnosed with PTSD and a traumatic brain injury. Since then life has been difficult dealing with the trauma of the past.
However, since I was introduced to Wheels4Change, my life has improved tremendously. I’ve restored purpose in my life working with Wheels4Change’s bike program, while cycling outdoors with other veterans gives me relief from the everyday stress of living with PTSD. I have been using cycling as a tool towards recovery as well from drugs and alcohol.
Working with Wheels4Change has given me hope for a better life.
My name is John Buck SGT, United States Army. I served as a combat medic in the United States Army from 2006-2011. Over my deployments I suffered multiple IED blasts. Adjusting back into civilian life has always been a serious struggle and masked with much “smoke and mirrors”. Living with moderate and then severe alcoholism, depression, PTSD, 2 major TBI’s, survivors guilt, and high anxiety are among just some of the struggles that led me to Cassie and Wheels4Change.
Now linking up with not only Cassie, but other military veterans, I again have found a purpose in a very unique way to serve. This has become a positive influence in my life and in sobriety. Being able to directly relate to other veterans with similar struggles is not only rewarding but an extreme passion of mine. My intentions are to not only grow as a person, but to grow with this organization and reach as many Brothers and Sisters as I can.
Past Stories From Veterans:
“Wheels 4 Change has helped me realize that the message is important to get out to veterans. By helping get the message out I don’t feel like a failure in life as much anymore. I have purpose. ~ Tom P
When I first encountered Wheels4Change it was introduced to me as a sponsor for obtaining a bicycle
for doing community service. I had already done massive and extensive work as in me eyes it had to be done and wasn’t getting there on its own. It was then I gained knowledge of their mission concerning awareness of the suicides among veterans and active duty personnel. It evolved even further by introducing to our community that this is more than a club or organization, but a way of life! The wellness of mind, body and soul. The staff glows with energy and the extended network of people radiate with joy at making ones acquaintance. They are not condescending given the circumstances, but encouraging to go beyond what you thought was your best. Their own dignity makes it easy to welcome the stranger no matter who he was. I am ever so grateful to be the slightest of participants, even though often the last one in. You feel the comradely as their awaiting you, not to finish, but to welcome you back. You know it is beautiful but unable to describe it visually. Just like a wheel turning, constantly moving progressively forward. A blessing without words! ~ Donnie R.
As I was involved with the Ride 4 The 23 I was happy to see that there is a program such as this helping veterans. It gave me a chance to do something outside of myself. I did not know that there a 23 veterans daily that commit suicide. W4C has given me a chance to be a part of something that is a good cause and also helps us veterans as well as raise awareness. I am truly blessed to be involved with W4C! Never in a million years did I think that 8 years after being discharged from the Marines that I would ever run again or want to participate in bike rides or 5k’s, triathlons or marathons, but now I am starting to enjoy it and it’s become an essential part of my recovery! ~ Chris B.
Wheels4change has helped me tremendously with my recovery and every day life. I lacked motivation to go out and be active until I met Cassie and heard about Wheels4change. I am in way better physical and mental shape now because I exercise every day now. I enjoy going out to events and meeting new people. Everyone is always so happy and it is contagious which helps me out quite a bit. I’m glad Wheels4change is there for me and everyone else and that I can be a part of it. ~ Jake Y.