Chris Goehner, with his service dog Pele, delivered a bill he helped write to the U.S. Senate to recognize the importance of using service dogs to help war veterans overcome PTSD in 2010. Next week, Goehner, an Iraq War veteran and former Wenatchee Valley resident, will ride with former Pres. George W. Bush in the Warrior 100k mountain bike ride in Texas.
WENATCHEE — A former Wenatchee Valley resident will test his bicycle skills with former President George W. Bush next week on a 100-kilometer mountain bike ride through the desert terrain of Palo Duro Canyon State Park near Amarillo, Texas.
Chris Goehner, 27, is one of 20 servicemen and women wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan who will join Pres. Bush in the second annual Warrior 100k Ride April 26-28. The participants were picked for their valor during the war on terrorism and recent work with military support organizations
Goehner is a member of World TEAM Sports and is a state captain of Team Red, White and Blue. Both organizations raise money and recognition for wounded veterans.
He stopped in Wenatchee this week to see family and pick up a bike at Vim Sports. He had been training with the Red, White and Blue triathalon team in Austin, Texas. He said he wanted to train in the Texas heat so he would be ready for next week’s ride and stay ahead of Bush.
“I’m really looking forward to this. I think it will bring me some closure,” he said. Lance Armstrong showed up for the first Warrior 100k Ride last year and Goehner hopes he will show again.
Goehner joined the U.S. Navy right after graduation from Cashmere High School in 2003. He was trained as a corpsman (medic) and was attached to the Marine Corps in Kuwait and Iraq, providing medical care to more than 1,200 injured people on two deployments in 2004 and 2005. But the severity of the trauma cases he treated led to his own Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The condition worsened after he returned to the United States. He received an honorable medical discharge in 2006.
Since then, Goehner has worked in behalf of veterans with PTSD through the Wounded Warrior Project and other organizations. In 2009, he became one of the first U.S. veterans to use a trained service dog to aid with PTSD. A year later, as a legislative intern for U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, he helped draft and pass a bill recognizing the importance of using service animals to aid veterans with the disorder. Currently a student at Central Washington University, he’ll graduate this fall with two bachelor degrees, in Political Science and Public Policy. He plans to build a career around helping veterans with PTSD.
His passion for the past year, he said, has been competing in triathalons, running and bicycling events. It’s a way to settle his own anxieties while bringing attention to others who need help, he said. War trauma results in hundreds of veteran suicides each year, he said.
“Every year we lose people with PTSD from suicide. As a corpsman, I never want to lose one of my own,” he said. “Life is like a race. You can’t give up. You can’t stop. You have to keep going. If you put in a hard workout, things start to look better.”
Rick Steigmeyer: 664-7151