Former president George W. Bush rides with veterans

35 year-old Leslie Zimmerman was an Army medic who deployed to Iraq in 2003. She served her term honorably, but when she got back, she noticed that everything had changed.

“When I got back, I just wasn’t the same, and I didn’t know what was wrong — even as a medic,” she told Dallas News. “But I’ve realized that talking about the invisible wounds of war is just as important as going to the doctor for a prosthetic.”

Zimmerman was one of 52 veterans that joined 43rd President George W. Bush for his annual Warrior 100k mountain bike ride through his Texas ranch. According to the Bush Center website, the ride, which began in 2009, “highlights the bravery and sacrifice of our Nations warriors and recognizes organizations that support America’s veterans.”

The veterans, all dressed in matching red, white, and blue outfits, began the two day bike ride on the 7th. President Bush, 71, led the vets through the scenic back trails of his Prairie Chapel Ranch in Crawford, TX, offering shouts of encouragement, all while never losing pace.

“It’s just an honor to be here,” Dave Smith, a 32 year-old Marine who flew all the way from Norway to participate, told Dallas News. “It’s like a family reunion.”

A month before Smith’s first ride with the President in 2012, he was a man fighting demons that followed him home from war. He recalls being in his college dorm, heavily intoxicated, with the barrel of a shotgun in his mouth.

“I’m light years better now,” Smith said. “Five years later, I’m happier and healthier than I’ve ever been.”

This year’s Warrior 100k was for previous riders only. Applications for next year’s ride have not been opened yet.

Listen Live