Iraq War veteran cycling cross-country, raising awareness for veteran suicides

Posted at 6:39 PM, Jun 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-01 20:39:20-04

Sergeant Sarah Lee is taking off from Pueblo City Park on Saturday at 8 a.m. to continue what she calls "A Vicious Cycle." 

The Iraq War veteran attempted to make a cross-country cycling trip last year, but was injured along the way. Now, she’s back and ready to finish a journey that brought her out of a very dark place. 

Sergeant Lee said, "I’ve already lost five friends to suicide and honestly I was close myself. I was right there myself." 

Sergeant Lee joined the Army National Guard when she was just 17 years old. 

"I did one tour in Iraq in 2004 for 12 months."

She served for nine years and got out of the service in 2009. 

"When you get out of the military you just really miss it, the camaraderie…different veterans go through different things and deal with different issues. Mine’s a little more guilt-based, you know, coming home…why am I here and my friends aren’t?"

They’re issues that Lee has transformed into inspiration.

"You have to be proactive about your own happiness so I went ahead and decided to buy a bicycle."

Soon after, she started a cycling trip across the country. 

"It’s become a combination of several really important things to me. The first is definitely a post-war type of healing."

The goal of the trip is to also bring awareness to PTSD and veteran suicides. 

"I’ve discovered firsthand the healing that can happen out there in nature and detaching."

Lee and travel companion John Steele first attempted the trip last may from Yorktown, VA. They made it to the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains when Lee was run off the road by a truck. 

"I injured my PCL ligament in the back of my knee. It took about five months to recover and then I had to wait for the winter."

The two riders started the trip over last month. 

"I have 2,000 miles left and I’m going to be finishing in California crossing the Golden Gate Bridge."

Along the way, stopping in places like Pueblo to meet with fellow veterans. 

"I have a fund set aside just for treating them to a meal or a drink and just talking…by putting myself out there…maybe it’ll result in people feeling less alone."

Lee invites anyone from the Pueblo community to send her off on Saturday as she travels to Canon City. She will be in the parking lot of City Park Swimming Pool.

If you’d like more information on her journey as well as the nonprofit she’s started for veterans click here.