In short the goal is simple – Never forget. Guest Blogger, Terry Ryan

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Last week, I was a visitor to Davie, Florida from Pennsylvania. I traveled there to visit my friend Janine Lutz, a Davie resident, and founder of the LCpl Janos V. Lutz Live To Tell Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to “Stop Veteran Suicide”, by raising awareness of Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), and promoting Post Traumatic Growth through community based services, like the newly launched “Buddy Up Program”. She has spearheaded and quickly mobilized these organizations in honor of her son, LCpl Janos V. Lutz who took his life, 12 Jan 2013, after enduring PTS upon returning from tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

suiteDuring my visit, Janine told me she would be hosting a bicyclist, Tom, who was riding 6600 miles from South Carolina, to Key West, over to the Gulf Coast, and then on to Alaska for the Sea2Sea organization – “Giving Back to Those Who Served”. Wow – sounds amazing! But I didn’t know how amazing until I met Tom. He is Tom von Kaenel, retired Army veteran, cycling alone, without a support vehicle, on this self-supporting journey. But he downplays his efforts and instead asks us to focus on the two goals of the Sea2Sea 2014 Challenge:

1) To remember those who are no longer with us. It is our vision to establish a long range program to establish an Iraq/Afghanistan War Memorial in each US State listing the names of those who gave their lives for us in these conflicts, with the eventual goal of a national Iraq/Afghanistan War Memorial in Washington, DC.

In short the goal is simple – Never forget.

2) To continue to help those that they left behind. Partnering with selected 501(c)3 organizations across the country (for example, LCpl Lutz Live To Tell, Purple Heart Homes, Wounded Warrior Project, Upstate Warrior Solution, Augusta Warrior Project, JD-3), we will continue to highlight the challenges that service members, veterans, and their families face and how all of us can help.”

I had the honor to attend the Sea2Sea/LCpl Janos V Lutz Live To Tell Foundation Memorial Ceremony, hosted by the Town of Davie on Friday, March 14, 2014. Tom led a Remember, Recognize, and Rejoice ceremony during which the names of 345 Florida military service members who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, were read simultaneously by the audience. The chaos of sound reminded all of us that the conflict, the suffering, and the return is not neat and tidy, and the wars’ effects ripple far and wide.

I am most fortunate to have spent time with Tom and Janine. Their passion and dedication to honor and help heal the veteran community is inspiring, and I urge you to look at their websites (sea2sea.org, lcpllutzlivetotell.org), and consider what you can do, small or large, to get involved.

And I hope that if Tom’s route passes through your community that you welcome him and consider hosting him for an evening’s rest as he cycles from city to city/town to town on his way to Alaska. I guarantee you’ll enjoy meeting him.

Sincerely,

Terry Ryan

Lutz Live to Tell, Davie, FL – Guest Blogger Michelle Coleman

22+ Veterans are losing their lives as a result of Post-Traumatic Stress every day.  More are lost here at home than on the battlefield and the worst part is that it is preventable.   Every day here at the LCpl Janos V Lutz Live To Tell Foundation, Inc.  we are posed with the question “Well, what can I do to help?”  Our immediate reply is “Spread the word!” Some pass out flyers, others share our post on social media, and then there is Tom Von Kaenel with Sea2Sea Inc.Chase Vehicle

Tom is riding 6600 miles from South Carolina down to the Florida Keys, and all the back up to Alaska to raise awareness for fallen servicemen & women.  His Florida trail has been dedicated to raising awareness to those lost from Post-Traumatic Stress and what can be done to prevent this epidemic from spreading.  The Lutz Live To Tell Foundation had the pleasure of trailing Tom from St. Augustine, FL to Davie, Fl where he was met with a welcome reception courtesy of the Mayor Judy Paul & the Town of Davie, FL.

Here Tom performed a wonderfully moving Remember, Recognize, & Rejoice Ceremony.  Tom Speech 3Local media outlets covering the event were so impressed by Tom’s ceremony that they published the cover story & photos less than 2 hours after the event.  Immediately following the Davie reception Tom was whisked away to the Florida Panther’s game where he was requested by Rick Case Automotive to be honored on the ice for the work he is doing across the nation.  Everyone that has met Tom and learned of his 2014 challenge have wanted nothing more but to help and contribute to his cause.


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The local Leathernecks motorcycle chapter attended the Davie reception and just had to be involved.  Leathernecks check presentThey are going to be making contact with Tom across the nation in various cities to help where needed. What shocked people the most is that Tom does not take any money for his awareness campaign.  Facial expressions tuned to admiration as he said that he just welcomes a hot meal and a place to sleep.  Which in turn inspired those listening to want to help more.

That night and well into the next morning the Lutz Live To Tell Foundation’s social media sites were on fire with excitement.  Tom & Sea2Sea have provided the opportunity to spread the word about the LCpl Janos V Lutz Live To Tell Foundation’s efforts to turn Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) into Post-Traumatic Growth in order to save our veteran’s lives.

@PTSDride – Twitter

Lutz Live to Tell Facebook Page – LCplLutzLiveToTell

Our Lutz Live To Tell Buddy Up program is offered for FREE on our website www.LCplLutzLiveToTell.org and provides an outline on how to locate and pair up veterans in your local community so Live To Tellthat they can have each other’s backs here at home like they did on the battlefield.  Included, is a family system that assist family members in dealing with returning veterans managing their PTS.

The Lutz Live To Tell Foundation is honored to have met and worked with Tom & Sea2Sea these past few days.  We encourage everyone to follow Tom for the next few months as he travels across the nation up to Alaska.  We look forward to seeing where he will set his next anchor and the amazing feats he will reach.

Good Travels Tom & don’t hesitate to contact us if you need anything!

Michelle Coleman

Clemson Air Force ROTC holds event to honor start of nationwide bike ride for military charity

by KATHERINE SCHENCK

This article originally appeared in The Tiger on March 7, 2014  | Link to original article

Lieutenant Colonel Tom von Kaenel (retired) began a 120-day journey on Saturday, March 1. Lt. Colonel von Kaenel, who resides in Six Mile, S.C., is participating in the second bi-annual Sea2Sea Challenge. He will be biking from America’s southernmost point, Key West, Fla., to the northernmost state, Juneau, Alaska. During the 120-day ride, Lt. Colonel von Kaenel will cover approximately 7,000 miles.

The first Sea2Sea Challenge took place in Spring 2012. Lt. Colonel von Kaenel and friends began in Ocean Shore, Wash., and arrived at Arlington National Cemetery on July 4, 2012. The group travelled almost 4,200 miles during their 74-day journey.

The difference in Lt. Colonel von Kaenel’s first challenge and his second challenge is that this time, he will be alone. For 120 days he will bike by himself, relying on local communities to host him overnight throughout his journey.

The Sea2Sea Foundation is a United States Military charity headquartered in Suwanee, Ga. Their mission is to “give back to those who serve.” The Sea2Sea Foundation aims to remember those who are no longer with us and to continue to help those who were left behind.

“Clemson Air Force ROTC was so eager to support the Sea2Sea Foundation because of our shared values. Lt. Colonel von Kaenel’s dedication to challenge himself and do something for a cause much bigger than himself, goes hand in hand with what we learn in ROTC,” Nick Kuzjak, student coordinator for the event and senior civil engineering major, said.

Lt. Colonel von Kaenel and other participants are able to fulfill their goals of the challenge through the nightly memorial services. Every night after his bike ride, Lt. Colonel von Kaenel will lead a memorial service to remember those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

During the memorial service, Lt. Colonel von Kaenel and the Clemson Air Force ROTC honored the South Carolinians who lost their lives while in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Several students also attended the memorial service. “It was amazing to see so many Clemson students as well as other people in the Clemson community join together to honor the fallen soldiers from our state,” Samantha Algary, a sophomore history major, said. “The memorial service really put the sacrifice all of our military personnel make into perspective for those of us who aren’t exposed to it very often.”

“During the memorial service, 16 current AFROTC cadets read off the 96 names of South Carolinians who have given the ultimate sacrifice to our country during Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom,” Kuzjak said.

“Tom then addressed the crowd and added a 97th name, a former soldier who took his own life after suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in November 2013. The event put into perspective the significance of Tom’s ride.”

“Hearing all of the names of the fallen soldiers and watching everyone’s reaction shows how committed to service the community is. Clemson began as a military academy, so we will always have strong ties to the United States Military,” Matt Olinger, a sophomore bioengineering major, said. “I have a lot of friends in Clemson’s ROTC program and I know the memorial service was very meaningful to them.”

In Memory of Daniel L Dickinson

In Memory of – March 5 Ride – Augusta, GA to Statesboro, GA

Dr Daniel L. Dickinson – died August 1, 2011

Excerpts from the Articles:

A Fort Gordon doctor died Monday after being struck by a car while traveling to work on his bicycle.

Dr. Daniel L. Dickinson, 57, is the second Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center doctor to die from a cycling incident in the past six months.

According to Richmond County sheriff’s Capt. Scott Gay, Dickinson was riding his bicycle near the intersection of Belair and Asbury roads around 6:30 a.m. when a 2003 Buick Regal driven by 76-year-old Charlie Bussey struck him from behind.

Gay said those who knew Dickinson “said he rides his bike from his house off of Walton Way to Fort Gordon a couple of times a week.” … Read the full article

One role in particular was repeated more than any other, though, when those who knew Dickinson talked about him Tuesday: encourager.

“He was just an optimistic person, always with a smile on his face,” said Phil Cohen, whose relationship with Dickinson goes back 20 years.

For Cohen, the owner of the Chain Reaction bicycle shop in Martinez, Dickinson was an encourager on the long training rides they would take out of Augusta. If Cohen ever fell back, Dickinson always slowed and pumped him up with his words.

“He wouldn’t leave me behind,” Cohen said.

Dickinson was a longtime cyclist and even crossed the country in 1993′s Race Across America. He was pedaling to work at Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center around 6:30 a.m. Monday when he was hit from behind by a car. He died a few hours later from his injuries; he was 57…. Read the full Article

 

The Beginning 2014

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This gallery contains 9 photos.

The Beginning – 2014 Sea2Sea Challenge Thanks to all those who contributed time and resources for our ride. Thanks to those who took pictures and video. If you have videos or photos you would like to send to us to use, please upload them to our facebook page. Many thanks … Continue reading

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

Prepping for the journey

Hello from the foothills at the Blue Ridge Mountains! Tom here, getting ready for the 2nd Sea2Sea journey.  I depart from Clemson, SC on Mar 1st, will bicycle down to Key West, FL, then across the US up to Washington State, through Canada, to arrive at Juneau, AK by July 4.  This will be about 6600 miles and will be self supporting (I’ll be carrying my own ‘stuff’).

It has been called ambitious & daunting, but no less so than the challenges that hundreds of thousands veterans and their families face on a daily basis.

I promise not to be so serious in the other blogs, but want to emphasize why we’re doing this again:

We have two goals:

1) To remember those who are no longer with us. It is our vision to establish a long range program to establish an Iraq/Afghanistan War Memorial in each US State listing the names of those who gave their lives for us in these conflicts, with the eventual goal of a national Iraq/Afghanistan War Memorial in Washington, DC.

We feel that it is that it is important to list the names at a memorial in each US State so that we have an enduring memorial of their sacrifice. We are starting this program in each state that we are cycling through during this trip and will continue with trips through all the States until completed.

In short the goal is simple – Never forget.

2) To continue to help those that they left behind. Partnering with selected 501(c)3 organizations across the country (for example, Purple Heart Homes, Wounded Warrior Project, Augusta Warrior Project), we will continue to highlight the challenges that service members, veterans, and their families face and how all of us can help.

The ride is different from two years ago in two respects:

1. I am currently cycling, self-supporting the entire distance alone, relying on knowledge and assistance from local communities and cycling clubs and those that wish or are able to cycle any part of the distance.

2. There is no dedicated vehicle for support or overnight accommodation – this is a self-supporting journey (I’m carrying all my stuff with me). Therefore I welcome local churches, civic halls, or families that could host me overnight as I cycle from city to city/town to town.

Also different from last time, instead of asking for corporate sponsorships and donations, we are encouraging all these kinds of donations and sponsorships be given to the local military charities (501(c)3 organizations) throughout the route.

I’ll be adding a short blog very frequently as well as Facebook & Twitter. The intent is to capture the faces and places of this great country of ours. Despite our challenges, we are blessed to here in America and to have the world’s best military defending our country.

Our challenge as citizens is to provide the military and their families with the best support during their service and when they transition back to the local communities across the US. They have raised their game to keep us safe, and now is the time to ensure that we respond in kind by raising our game to give back in the way that works best for them and the local community.

I’ll provide a route overview and how I’ve prepared for the trip in a future blog.

Til then, when you next see a veteran or his/her family, consider adding three words to the phrase that they often hear and appreciate. ‘Thank you for your service’. Those three words are: How can I thank you for your service.

Take care, be safe, God Bless,

Tom