MADELEY resident Giles Beresford-Peirse has cycled 2000km across southern Asia to support people with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The ex-Special Air Service Regiment (SAS) soldier joined fellow ex-SAS members Laurie ‘Truck’ Sams and Troy Lockyer for the ride from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to Surat Thani in Thailand.
It was part of Mr Sams’ 10,000km journey from Hanoi to Sydney, representing the 10,000 days of the Vietnam War, to raise money for DefenceCare.
Mr Sams, who lost a leg in a parachute accident in 1995 while saving a tandem student and received Australia’s Star of Courage for his efforts, arrived in Perth in late August before heading across the Nullarbor to reach Sydney by November 20.
Mr Beresford-Peirse’s security company sponsored the Asian leg of The Long Ride Home, with other owners and ex-SAS soldiers Matt Brown and Mat Jones also taking part.
“We strongly believe in Truck’s journey and its main objective of raising community awareness of the size of the PTSD problem among our soldiers and veterans,” he said.
“We have all served in the SAS and seen what PTSD can do to some guys after their deployments and discharge so we wanted to get behind Truck as best we can.”
He said though physically challenging, the ride was “fascinating” and Mr Sams’ meetings with former Vietnam soldiers provided “healing for both sides”.
Mr Beresford-Peirse said he hoped the ride would promote awareness and support for anyone with PTSD or other forms of mental illness.
“It is treatable with the right identification, support programs and specialised assistance,” he said. “However it still needs to be identified and acted upon as early as possible before something irreversible happens.”
Earlier this year, charity Walking Wounded reported that since 1999, 239 ex-Australian soldiers had committed suicide compared to 49 killed while on active duty.
“Our advice: don’t try and sort it out yourself because it doesn’t go away,” Mr Beresford-Peirse said.
“See the professionals, for the sake of you and your loved ones.”
To donate, visit www.thelongridehome.com.au.