Editorial: A Long Ride with Clear Minds
When the annual Solider Ride Hamptons, which, in many ways, is the original cycling event to support wounded American veterans returning from conflicts overseas, arrives in Sag Harbor on Saturday, it will do so with significant relief in the air.
Last year’s event took place as a cloud of controversy hung over the Wounded Warrior Project, a national organization and the main beneficiary of the event, after The New York Times and CBS News reported the nonprofit had spent lavishly on company retreats and executive pay and travel packages. Those reports were debunked earlier this year when the Better Business Bureau cleared Wounded Warrior of any charges, and gave the organization its seal of approval.
But the damage was done. In the wake of the allegations, local supporters of Wounded Warrior said that many of its corporate sponsors had cut ties with the organization, resulting in staff cuts and the cancellation of programs.
Meanwhile, a group of longtime East End residents who helped launch the first Soldier Ride in 2004 have continued their efforts to fill what they have always seen as a dire need to serve and assist wounded American veterans as they try to return to a semblance of normalcy after their service.
Today there are over a dozen Soldier Rides across the country, and several more overseas, and the Wounded Warrior Project recently announced that it had served its 100,000th injured veteran. The organization helps its clients by providing a variety of counseling, job training, and health services that the Veterans Administration does not provide.
Some of the beneficiaries of the organization’s programs will be among those who cycle from Amagansett to Sag Harbor on Saturday to take part in this year’s event. Sag Harbor has always rolled out the red carpet for the event and it would be doubly fitting to do so again this year.