A retired soldier is paying back what he says is a debt to the U.S. army

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Posted: Mar 04, 2014 4:40 PM EDT Updated: Mar 04, 2014 4:40 PM EDT

Written by Elizabeth Hughes, Reporter | Link to Original Article

3352485_GA retired soldier from South Carolina is paying back what he says is a debt to the US Army. His journey started Monday, and his second stop was USC Aiken, South Carolina.

Tom Von Kaenel has vowed to ride his bicycle from the tip of the Florida Coast to Alaska to show his appreciation to the U.S. Military for saving his life.  

It’s hard to believe that just four years ago, retired vet Tom Von Kaenel was in a life threatening bicycle accident that left him with a shattered hip and broken pelvis. He was transported to military hospital in France where he says, hospital staff saved his life.

 Now he plans to ride his bicycle across the U.S. to honor the people that saved him.  “Thank you, this is my way of giving back pure and simple.”

Kaenel’s bike tour is sponsored by the Sea2Sea U.S. Military non-profit organization. An organization that’s purpose is to give back to those who served.  USC Aiken’s veteran Military Student Success Center’s Robert Murphy says having the event on Campus is the best way to bring notoriety to the youth of South Carolina.  “but the interesting thing I think will take place tonight, I when they are away from their friends and back in their dorm, they are going to contemplate on what they just heard and what they just saw-and it might cause them to go a little bit deeper in their studies whether its religion philosophy, why do people go to war and maybe cause them to go a little bit deeper.”

The students I spoke with at UCS Aiken, on campus had no idea Von Kaenel would be showing up, and say after hearing his story, they are rooting for him whole heartedly.

Ally Brown, a student said Tuesday, “It just made me love, and respect the military even, more and want to encourage them.”

Danielle Seibert, another student says, “it makes me really grateful and thankful for not only my family but everyone else serving in the military, because we take that for granted on a daily basis.”

Von Kaenel says being here with the students is just the start of his long journey, and he hopes that sharing his story will remind the students of the dedication and commitment the U.S. Army has for Americans. “This kind of event changes your life because you see the depth, the devotion and sacrifice these men and women servicemen make.”

Von Kaenel should finish his journey in July, and says the road won’t be easy but it’s the least he could do to thank the men and women who saved his life.

Sea2Sea Remembers Fallen and Living Military

Great Video Summary of why Sea2Sea is doing what they do.

Link to original video on IndependentMail.com

Cross-country bike ride to highlight veterans’ needs

Link to Original Article

Cross-country bike ride to highlight veterans’ needs

By Michael EadsPosted February 28, 2014 at 9 p.m., updated February 28, 2014 at 9:10 p.m.

CLEMSON — A Six Mile native will ride his bicycle coast to coast this spring to raise awareness of veterans’ issues.

A crowd of over 100 students, veterans and well wishers gathered Friday afternoon in the Scroll of Honor Memorial across from Memorial Stadium to send off Tom von Kaenel on the Sea2Sea 2014 Challenge. Von Kaenel’s ride will take him from Key West, Fla., to Juneau, Alaska — a four-month trip covering 7,000 miles. A 2011 ride took him from Washington State to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

“From my perspective, I’ve got to do something and this is what I’m doing,” von Kaenel told the crowd.

 

Sea 2 Sea remembers fallen and living military

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The Army veteran was inspired to work on behalf of returning Iraq and Afghanistan soldiers after recuperating in a U.S. military hospital in Germany in 2010 from injuries suffered during a vacation in the French Pyrenees mountains. Once recovered, he dedicated himself to raising money and awareness for organizations that serve the needs of this newest generation of American combat veterans.

Von Kaenel also shared the story of Travelers Rest resident Jason Scott Roth, a Marine lance corporal who took his own life last fall after waiting over a year for mental health treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs. He said nearly one veteran takes his or her own life every hour on average because of being unable to get needed help and being unable to adjust to life back home.

One old friend showed up unannounced Friday to show his support for von Kaenel’s work for military veterans.

“I know Tom puts a lot of heart in it,” U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham told the crowd. “I think most of us wish we could do more. We’re all trying to figure out what we can do.”

The ceremony included the reading of over 90 names of Upstate soldiers who have died serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and a rifle salute. The names were read by cadets from the Clemson Corps, the university’s ROTC program.

Von Kaenel shared the podium with volunteers from various Upstate groups working to help local veterans transition back to civilian life, including JD-3 Veterans Organization (www.JD-3.org), Upstate Warrior Solution (www.upstatewarriorsolution.com) and Honoring Their Service, a Keowee Key effort that can be found on Facebook.

Anyone wanting to track von Kaenel’s progress or learn more about helping returning veterans should visit sea2sea.org.

Six Mile Resident to Embark on Ride for Veterans

Great Article about Tom’s 2nd ride for Sea2Sea in The Greenville News

Feb 24, 2014

Exerpt from the Article:
(For the full article, click here)

This trip is different from von Kaenel’s first Sea2Sea ride in 2011. This one is not about raising money. He wants to raise awareness about those who have died and about those who live with the weight of war on them. And he also wants to let people know about the organizations that help, such as Upstate Wounded Warriors or Gold Star Mothers.

“The extraordinary people are those people that have lost their loved ones in those conflicts and carry on day after day to try and live a normal life,” he says fighting tears. “The extraordinary people are the ones that come back damaged and hurt from visible and invisible wounds, and the families that are struggling to help them lead a normal life that is safeguarded by our constitution.

Six Mile Resident to Embark on Ride for Veterans

Six Mile Resident to Embark on Ride for Veterans