Operation Homecoming Alumni Join Indian Motorcycle Veterans Charity Ride To Sturgis

MC columnist and Iraq war vet Jack Lewis to document veterans' stories during the Indian Motorcycle ride from Los Angeles to Sturgis.

Iraq war veterans and writers Jack Lewis and Sharon D. Allen will join the inaugural Veterans Charity Ride to Sturgis, created by Indian Motorcycles and Full Vision Productions. Previously contributors to the Emmy award-winning Operation Homecoming, Lewis and Allen will participate as both riders and documentarians to tell these veterans' stories of reconnection during this epic journey.

Jack Lewis with friends, in Iraq.

Lewis will ride 1,576 miles with the group from the L.A. Basin to North Dakota on one of several sidecar rigs provided by Indian Motorcycles and Champion Sidecars to accommodate veterans who are too injured to operate their own bikes, but who still want to ride to Sturgis in booming style. Allen, one of two female combat veterans involved, will ride a traditional Indian and will speak at several events. As only fellow service members can do, Allen and Lewis hope to focus attention on the human potential of wounded and disabled veterans, and to promote this event so that many more service members can participate in coming years.

A combat veteran, Seattle-based author Lewis will participate as an embedded journalist for Motorcyclist magazine, where he is a contributing editor (see Behind Bars). His latest book, Head Check: What It Feels Like to Ride Motorcycles, is a collection of extended essays about his riding experience that includes the story of Montana-based veterans program Camp Patriot. Lewis's previous writing includes "Road Work," which appeared in two feature films based on Operation Homecoming, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and was featured by NPR, PBS, and the New Yorker Online.

“For a long time now, motorcycles have been the way I pull myself through my dark times,” Lewis said. “On the Veterans Charity Ride, about a dozen of us will get that opportunity to clear our heads in the clean wind of the road, but that’s only part of the point. What's really important is to connect many more veterans with resources they can use to reengage with life.”

Sharon Allen in Iraq.

Chicago-based rider Allen, a noted speaker on the issues facing female veterans, contributed work to Powder: Writing by Women in the Ranks, from Vietnam to Iraq and has had two plays based, in part, on her writings. Sharon's works have been reprinted in numerous newspapers, including theWashington Post, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and the Cincinnati Enquirer. She serves on the board of directors for the Chicagoland Toys for Tots Motorcycle Parade.

"We're excited to have two veteran writers onboard," said ride organizer "Indian Dave" Frey of Full Vision Productions. "Our goal is to get the word out about what these wounded warriors can do -- the great things they're capable of -- when we get them connected to the resources that can unlock their potential."

Sharon Allen on her Indian Chief.

All Veterans Charity Ride participants will also participate in the time-honored Sturgis Buffalo Chip Freedom Celebration Ride on August 6th to honor those who have served our country and to share the freedom of the road with 600 fellow veterans. For more information on the Veterans Charity Ride, visit veteranscharityride.org