r SPRINGVILLE – About 20 veterans a day in the United States die by suicide, according to the Department of Veteran Affairs. rMore than half – 65 percent – are 50 or older, predating the current war in the Middle East.
The Combat Vets Motorcycle Association (CVMA) – Utah Chapter 49-1 – decided to do something about it. Three years ago they started a Ride to Zero, with “Zero” being the only acceptable number of veterans who take their own lives.
“Ride to Zero is about action,” John “John Wayne” Oldroyd told Serve Daily. Oldroyd is Commander of the 49-1 chapter of the Combat Vets Motorcycle Association (CVMA). “We raise money for the National Center for Veteran Studies that is used to fund research and treatment for veterans who are at risk of suicide.”
The CVMA’s third-annual Ride to Zero rallied Saturday, Aug. 26, in the smoothly paved parking lot of Legends Motorcycles and Strap Tank Brewing Co. in Springville.
“We’re trying to raise awareness,” Howard Drury told Serve Daily. Drury is CVMA spokesman. “We’re trying to raise $30,000 with this event.”rThe Combat Vets Motorcycle Association, which is a national support organization (with local chapters) for veterans – rather than simply a motorcycle club – gathered about 300 motorcycles at Legends Motorcycles for the kickoff. In previous years it had started from a park in Riverton, Utah.
“We contacted Legends about having it there,” Oldroyd said. The spacious paved parking lot in front of Legends Motorcycles was filled by mid-morning with leather-clad motorcyclists and their bikes, which kept increasing in number as the clock tick-tocked to the 2 p.m. presentation of The Colors – achieved with military precision – and opening remarks.
Preliminaries done, the motorcyclists led by Oldroyd on his 2016 black and silver Indian Roadmaster made a two-hour swoop around Utah Lake, ending at Leatherheads sports bar in Draper for a 6 p.m. concert headlined by American Hit Men.
The $34,000 raised – exceeding the goal of $30,000 – is to help the National Center for Veterans Studies led by Craig Bryan, PsyD, fund a second independent research study on NCVS methodology, Oldroyd said.
It is research into the effects of what so far appears to be unprecedented success in treating the PTSD that is a forerunner to suicide, Drury said.r“The results of [this second study] should allow the Department of Defense to implement Dr. Bryan’s treatment method across the entire Department of Defense,” Oldroyd continued.
PTSD – post-traumatic stress disorder – includes four types of symptoms: reliving the event; avoiding situations that remind you of the event; negative changes in beliefs and feelings; and feeling keyed up, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The VA suggests “you should seek help” if the symptoms last longer than three months, if they cause great stress or if they disrupt work or home life, according to the website.
“The chapter Executive Officer and many other members have lost fellow members to suicide,” Drury said. “This is personal for them. They talked with Dr. Bryan, director of the National Center for Veterans Studies, and he told them he’s trying to get the DOD [Department of Defense] to pick up the cost of the research.
“We feel what Dr. Bryan is trying to do is important,” Drury continued. “It’s work that needs to be done.”
The National Center for Veterans Studies developed in 2010 at the University of Utah as a result of conversation in the Collee of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Bryan told Serve Daily. The core of four people has now grown to nearly 30 student volunteer researchers.
“We have developed the only intervention proven to prevent suicide in the military, up to 76 percent,” Bryan said. “We’ve tested new ways to make it [intervention] faster, better.
“In the last year, 50 service members and veterans have gone through this,” the psychologist and researcher said. “We’ve shown that with this intervention, we can cure PTSD in two weeks.”rA cure is determined by a researcher interviewing the PTSD research participant beforehand, and, following the two-week treatment, an outgoing interview conducted by an independent assessor.
The Department of Defense has expressed interest in implementing the research, but first wants to see similar results in a new study, Bryan said. But the departmental budget has already been maxed, and grants that help fund the previous study have been used too. DoD wanted a second study to see if it would match the results of the first.
The donations and registration fees for the Ride to Zero will help fund the next stage of the research, Bryan said. Additional donations would help, the psychologist/researcher added.
Active military and veterans dealing with PTSD are invited to become research participants. There is no cost except that of getting to and from Park City, where the intervention takes place.
“We don’t want any veteran to have to pay,” said Dianna Herrmann, Bryan’s executive assistant. “They’ve already paid with their service to the country.”rFor more information visit www.veterans.utah.edu, email NCVS@Utah.Edu or call Dr. Bryan’s office at 801.587.7978.