Australian Special Air Service Vietnam veteran and amputee Laurie “Truck” Sams SC has committed to riding 10,000 kilometres to raise awareness of veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Mr Sams suffers from PTSD himself and said there needed to be more research into the disorder and more support to tackle to condition early.
“I had effects of it very early in life as a young soldier and it took 20 years to really get bad,” Mr Sams said.
“It cost me my family and I don’t want to see that happen to these people who are suffering from it now.”
Mr Sams said he saw history repeating itself as younger veterans were coming home from war and not receiving the treatment they deserved.
“I’ve been through that myself as a Vietnam veteran, we came home, we weren’t looked after at all,” Mr Sams said.
He said he was concerned about the high suicide rate and PTSD suffers among veterans.
“So I decided to get on my bike and bring out this awareness to government level and certainly to our community that these veterans are out there, they’re suffering and they’re not necessarily getting the treatment they so deserve,” Mr Sams said.
“They’re quiet about it, they don’t make a big show of it, but we need something in place that recognises these guys and so they can seek help.”
Mr Sams was a skydiving instructor and lost his leg in a jump with a student in 1995.
“I had a student on the front, I had a major malfunction and saved my students life and was awarded the star of courage,” Mr Sams said.
He said having one leg made the ride challenging but also made it significant.
“It makes the ride more meaningful that I’m going through a lot of pain and agony doing the ride, but it’s worth it to raise awareness of PTSD because these guys are going through a lot more suffering than what I am,” Mr Sams said.
Mr Sams said 10,000km was significant as the Vietnam War lasted 10,000 days.
He had completed 6500km of his journey so far which started in Hanoi, Vietnam on May 5 this year.
“I rode 2500km by myself to Ho Chi Minh city,” he said.
Mr Sams said he met with with his former enemies in Hi Chi Minh.
“For me who’s a sufferer of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I met a lot of these guys who are suffering themselves,” he said.
“This wasn’t planned but it helped me deal with a chapter in my life of my suffering and scars of war.
“I’ll be working on that forever I think but it’s a lot better.”
From Vietnam he road through Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore where he flew to Perth where he started his journey before reaching Esperance.
He will stop in Canberra to have tea with the Governor General and hoped to give the Australian flag he has carried with him to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
“The flag has been carried with me not just on this ride but retracing the Thai-Burma death railway,” Mr Sams said.
He said he had completed the 325km twice in honour of his father who was a prisoner of war in World War Two.
Mr Sams planned on finishing his ride in Sydney at the Opera House on November 20.
So far he raised around $55,000 and had no plan on stopping.
“I’m keen enough to keep riding across America and around the world if no one’s listening to this plight,” Mr Sams said.
Donations can be made at www.thelongridehome.com.au.