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Two war veterans ride bikes to raise awareness

Two Iraqi War veterans stopped at Fort Benning Wednesday to raise awareness and support for the nation’s veterans.

As part of the Jeremy Staat Foundation’s Wall-to-Wall Cross-country Bicycle ride, Jeremy Staat has teamed up with Wesley Barrientos for a 2,638 mile ride from Bakersfield, Ca., to the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.

They want to raise awareness and support for veteran organizations, veterans suicide awareness, promote veteran centers on all college campuses throughout the nation and to draw attention to childhood obesity.

The veterans were on post to meet members of the U.S. Paralympics team, fire shots at the range, have lunch with soldiers and Maj. Gen. Robert Brown, commander of the Maneuver Center of Excellence.

Staat, a native of Bakersfield, is a retired NFL player and U.S. Marine. He is a former teammate of Pat Tillman who played football at Arizona State University. While Staat played in the NFL after college, Tillman left football to join the Army. Serving as a Ranger, Tillman was killed by friendly fire in 2004 while deployed to Afghanistan. 

After his football career, Staat enlisted in the Marines and was deployed to Iraq in 2007 as a gunner. He was medically discharged in 2009 after he was stricken by a heart condition.

Barrientos was serving in the Army in December 2007 when he was wounded by a bomb blast in Iraq.  He lost both his legs and rides a special bike using his arms.

The veterans leave Columbus today to resume their ride to Fort Valley, Ga.

Donations may be made to The Jeremy Staat Foundation to support the bike ride.