DALEVILLE, Ala. (WDHN) — Jim Gillhouse and Wayne Wigglesworth are two local veterans that are using their motorcycle clubs as a way to spread comradery, brotherhood, and veteran suicide awareness.
“When you look back to the history of motorcycle clubs the military service is very steeped in tradition in all 4 branches,” said Jim gillhouse, Alabama Chapter president of the Infidels Motorcycle Club. “And that culture is carried over to the very foundation of the motorcycle clubs, from the very beginning it all started with military veterans returning from World War I and World War II, with a surplus of military motorcycles and looking for the brotherhood that was missing in civilian life.”
The veterans say it’s no different today, being part of veteran motorcycle clubs helps them feel the bond of brotherhood. A bond that is needed in more ways than one.
“We’re in search of a bond that we found when we were in the military that once you’ve been in the military and once you have become a veteran especially if you have seen combat it will forever alter you both physically and mentally, and unless someone has seen that they are not prepared to deal with the demons that come with it,” said Gillhouse. “My dad used to always say if the demons that live in my head didn’t need me for transportation, theyd’ve killed me a long time ago.”
The men are using their motorcycle clubs to try and bring awareness to Project 22.
“We lose 22 veterans a day to suicide and through the struggle of those demons there’s a quote that we hear all the time that we are very committed to ‘when the demons come for you brother, in your darkest hour call on me and we will face them together’,” said Gillhouse.
Both Gillhouse and Wigglesworth have turned to their motorcycle clubs in their darkest hours.
“I’ve been both suicidal and homicidal” Gillhouse told WDHN.
“I wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for my club,” said Wayne Wigglesworth who is a member of and National Vice President of the Alabama Chapter US Veterans Motorcycle Club. “I was in a bad place, I ran into a member, we served together didn’t even know he was in a club, we talked, he invited me out to go for a ride and that led to another thing, to another thing and that’s why I’m alive today.”
The men say using Veterans Day as a way to thank a veteran could save a life.
“Through this weekend, this veteran’s day week, thank them for their service, it means a lot, it’s not just saying thank you for your service like we’ve talked about with project 22, making that person feel appreciated in that very moment…You may not know it but you could be saving their life,” said Wigglesworth.
This weekend the US Veterans Motorcycle Club will be hosting a poker run and the Southeast VetFest in Daleville beginning at 9:30 Saturday morning. The proceeds will go towards the local Disabled American Veterans Ozark Chapter. For more information, you can visit their Facebook page.