The Bike Report powered by TheCarolinaRider.com
For many more photos, articles, and a comprehensive calendar of Carolina events, go to TheCarolinaRider.com!
TheCarolinaRider.com is an online motorcycle magazine focused on riders of North and South Carolina who love and ride motorcycles of all types (with an initial base of cruiser-style riders.) The website has an ever-growing variety of articles, stories, reviews, photo galleries, and other rider resources plus an always-full year-round events calendar.
In addition to the website, we publish a weekly e-Magazine that goes out every Tuesday to over 56,000 Inboxes. Want your free weekly subscription? Sign up with your email address HERE.
by SSG Justin Madore, US Army (Ret) of TheCarolinaRider.com
Here's the story of Justin and Cody:
For me military life is a proud family tradition traceable back to the Revolutionary War. After graduating college in 1999, I married Marie, the love of my life in 2001. I did the whole civilian work life for a while but I knew that for me the Military was in my blood. So I enlisted and headed to Ft. Sill, OK for basic training on May 21. 2001. I then reported to the 101st Airborne at Ft. Campbell, KY on September 16, 2001. I am a Screaming Eagle till the day I die.
I deployed to Iraq in 2003 with the 101st Airborne Division. I’ll tell you what it is like you first arrive as a soldier: "The experience in Iraq is surreal. One day you're here in the U.S. and the next thing you know, you're in a 3rd world country, you turn around and you're getting shot at." From day one, the vigilance required to carry out missions and keep our unit safe was never ending. After the deployment, I returned to the U.S., re-enlis Marie and I settled into civilian life with the arrival of my beautiful daughter Alexandra and a new place to live in Charlotte, NC. With my sudden departure from the service that I loved to inactivity heightened my symptoms. The social person, who used to start conversations easily with anyone, well now I just shut myself away from people. Trips outside my home were almost impossible. To go to the store for me would take 8-10 hours for the smallest things. After already having 9 surgeries, 7 on my knee, 1 on my Jaw and 1 on my shoulder and trying to cope with everyday life, routine tests discovered I now had thyroid cancer, and this now required two surgeries and treatment. Bringing my total to 11 surgeries due to my Combat Military Service. While all this is going on Marie and I welcomed the arrival of our handsome son Lincoln. I knew now that I had to make a change in my life for the better, to become a better husband and a better father I first had to become a better man.
Searching for answers to PTSD, I corresponded online with veterans who had service dogs. I had did all the research and got the permission from my VA Doctor’s and with my finger’s crossed, I applied to K9s For Warriors in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. While waiting to hear if I was accepted into this academy, K9S For Warrior posted a request to transport a dog from near my hometown to Florida and I volunteered. When I arrived at the meeting spot, "Cody" walked up to me and as I bent over to shake the dog’s paw, I was informed this was to become my PTSD Service Dog.
I remember the first time we looked into each other's eyes it was an immediate bond. Cody's new life was about to begin. Months later, after receiving the best treatment and training from K9’s For Warriors, Cody and I were reunited for three-weeks of training at the Academy or what we call the “Dawg House”. K9’s For Warriors is an outstanding program that treats everybody like family. The staff and volunteers are amazing and the Trainers are the best. They make becoming a Handler and K9 team a rewarding experience. After I graduated I returned home with my new “Battle Buddy” Cody confident that I will be able to talking my issues of Combat PTSD head on.
Once home things started to improve. My nightmares have reduced as Cody helps snap me out of night terrors safely. I also suffer from seizures from TBI and Cody alerts me before they begin. Both Cody's ability to warn for seizures and with the new legislation allowing compensation for Marie as a caregiver when needed, gives us added peace of mind.
With Cody's help, my anxiety both at home and in public is greatly reduced, making outings with my family now possible. Cody is an icebreaker and I once again enjoy talking with people they meet along the way.
However, I have lost one of the most important things to me and that is the freedom and joy of riding my motorcycle. After returning home and after my 7th and last knee surgery which resulted in a total knee replacement my doctor told me that I could never ride a motorcycle again because my knee and my leg has been damaged so much through these surgeries that its just not feasible to do it. I was heartbroken, I had just rebuilt a bike to ride for the upcoming season and now I could not. So I sold it. What’s a man to do?
One day I was talking to one of my old battle buddies, Sgt. Brad VandenBerg USA, Ret. Who like me, loves to ride and also has a passion to help fellow Veteran’s in need. I explained to him about how I sold my motorcycle because the doc said I could not ride anymore. Brad like me is a passionate individual when it comes to motorcycles and Veterans who ride motorcycles. He said that he would get back to me, and I knew right then Brad had something cooking up his sleeve.
Brad contacted me a few weeks later and told me that he and his fellow Vets at the VFW and all around Michigan are going to get me on a bike, a custom Harley Davidson with a sidecar for Cody. He said that he is now creating a new organization called Two Wheels For Warriors. Two Wheels For Warriors mission is to build custom motorcycles for Disabled Veterans, to make them adaptable to our needs. Or as Brad would say, “To put Veterans on some Sexy Ass Bikes.”
I was chosen along with another Disabled Veteran to be the first 2 to receive the first two adaptable custom Harley Davidsons From Two Wheels From Warriors. Diggers Speed Shop in Kalamazoo, MI is building my bike and Matt’s Bike is being built my Herrera’s Custom Iron Werks also in MI. Founded by Brad and intended to keep fellow vets on two wheels has now become a cause worth supporting and fighting for. His goal has started with the first of two bikes being built in Michigan for a Veteran from Michigan and me a Veteran from Charlotte, NC. He already has another bike lined up for a female disabled veteran.
I want to thank my wife for all the love and support she has giving me throughout all of the good and rough times. "You are the rock I lean on and I want to become that rock for you again." To my two beautiful children Alexandra and Lincoln, I love you, the two of you are my everything. I also want to thank K9s for Warriors for giving me Cody and their continued support as I travel down my path to recovery. Also thank you to Two Wheels For warriors for the commitment to Disabled Veterans and the freedom we seek upon the open rode. To The Carolina Rider, thank you for allowing me to share my story with all your readers.
I will leave you with this it felt great to hear my wife say, "It's good to have you back." Life is complicated for my family, but thanks to Cody's presence, things are much easier. Fun is starting to return to our lives and that's the way it should be. Still some days are better than others but "that's the price we pay for the honor of serving"