Tegh Singh doesn’t let snow stop him from cycling around Calgary. The veteran who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan is biking 100 kilometres across the city and raising funds for the Veterans Transition Network (VTN).
“When I first signed up for Veterans Transition Network, which was a program that completely changed my life and saved my marriage, I found out about that program because I spoke to alumni here at the Veterans Association Food Bank,” Singh said on the first leg of his ride on Saturday morning.
“Just a couple of years ago I could barely leave my house,” Singh said. “Now look what I can do with just a little bit of support from these different organizations and how I give it right back to the community and I think we can say that for a lot of veterans if we just rally around them.”
One of his stops was at the Veterans Association Food Bank, another at the Dashmesh Culture Centre and at Two Wheel View, a local cycling organization.
Singh said cycling, his faith and the support of other veterans have been fundamental in healing from PTSD.
“I really wanted to come out and make a statement about the veteran community and show metaphorically and physically how much further veterans can go when they have a bit more support in their community,” said Singh who is riding considerably further than he did last year when he raised funds for VTN by cycling to military memorials.
Joining Singh through the snow and ice was Sven Stuwe, a volunteer mechanic with Two Wheel View. They became friends after Stuwe worked on one of Singh’s bikes. Singh said his friend is a perfect fit for the demanding ride.
“It’s a very big source of comfort having him on the ride — both with his expertise in cycling and being out on the road and also just having this bond with him over, unfortunately, trauma,” Singh said. “He’s also an amazing friend.”
In May, Stuwe’s close friend Angela McKenzie was killed after being an innocent victim of a targeted shooting.
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On May 10, 2022, police received multiple reports of two vehicles that were driving erratically along 36 Street S.E., while involved in a shooting. That resulted in one of the vehicles crashing into a minivan that was being driven by McKenzie at the intersection of 36 Street and 17 Avenue S.E.
“The anger is something that flares up more often,” Stuwe said. “There is sadness at times, but the anger flares up when you think about how this happened and that this person is gone and there’s nothing you can do about it. I’m sure that’s similar to things that veterans feel as well.”
On Saturday, the pair rode by the location where McKenzie died.
“For me, it’s a bit of anxiety,” Stuwe said. “You can’t help but look over your shoulder a bit more and make sure all the cars are stopped. I’m sure it’s tenfold or 100-fold for military veterans.
“I wish there was more support. I wish there was more that could be done for them because they really deserve it. They need that help and they’ve done a lot for us.”
Stuwe said the trauma he feels can’t compare to what veterans go through, but he added the ride has helped him better understand the issues veterans face and what they are capable of.
Singh said VTN is a “phenomenal organization” providing veterans mental health support.
“Mental health is really at the centre of a lot of the issues that veterans have with transitioning back into civilian life and VTN has an incredible program which addresses the grief and the trauma and lot of the common problems veterans face,” Singh said.
Other stops on the Saturday bike ride for VTN included the Remington YMCA, Homes for Heroes veteran housing, The Military Museums, Peacekeeper Park and Battalion Park.