Houma man biking 1,500 miles to raise awareness for veteran homelessness

Updated: Apr. 1, 2021 at 5:10 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - In an effort to raise awareness for veteran homelessness, Ricky Folse of Houma embarks on a 1,500-mile bike ride that will take him through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama to Key West, Florida.

“I can’t ride on any interstate, it’s illegal, so I’m following the coast,” Folse said.

He says he has raised $9,000 so far, money he says will go directly to veteran organizations to help feed, shelter, and locate veterans.

In 2019, Veteran Affairs report to Congress showed that more than 37,000 veterans experienced homelessness during a single day count. Another report showed more than a million vets received mental health treatment through a number of its programs in 2018.

“Our goal is to bring awareness to actually how many of our veterans are out there suffering, homeless, and dealing with PTSD,” Folse said.

As he rides through these cities, he intends to stop, meet, and help veterans along the way, “once I verify, they are actually veterans. I will be getting them food and clothing along the way and doing interviews.”

Folse was discharged from basic training when health professionals found an issue in his back. Since he was not able to serve, he says this is how he intends to help.

The 41-year-old is friends with a number of veterans and says he watched as some dealt with their inner battles. “I lost a couple of friends in the last year and a half from shutting themselves in, or drinking heavily, taking psychiatric medicines, painkillers, to deal with injuries and mental injuries they acquired while being combat veterans overseas,” said Folse.

He says each city he visits, he plans to share a veteran’s personal story, as part of a forthcoming documentary. “I want people to hear the pain that some of these veterans go through when they get back,” he said.

Folse admits he has a big goal ahead of him, but he says the end result is more important, “if I can get one veteran off the street and into a better place, that makes the whole 1,500 miles worth it. I’m not going to stop until I hit 1,500 miles even if I have to hit Key West and hit back north.”

Follow Folse’s journey through his YouTube page or donate to his GoFundMe account.

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