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FERRIER FILES: Iraq War Veteran shares purpose with Cookeville Vietnam Wall

(Fox 17 News)

Hundreds of people came out to see the Wall that Heals, a half replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, in Cookeville on Thursday.

It is custom to find the name of a fallen friend or loved one and run your fingers along the groove of their name in the replica wall. A young veteran carrying a withered rose was among those who came to pay their respects at the wall in Cookeville.

“I brought a rose that was given to me 14 years ago," Sarah Lee said. "I was welcomed home. I thought it would be nice to give it to a Vietnam veteran who was not welcomed."

Former Army Sergeant Sarah Lee is a combat veteran who served a 12 month tour of duty in Iraq as part of her 8-year career as a soldier.

Like so many veterans, she came home and lost her way. She said she also lost her purpose and will.

“You definitely do whatever you need to get home alive, but the war does continue," Lee said. "The war inside is very different than the war we are trained to win."

After flirting with thoughts of ending her life, this former soldier found a new cause; to help other veterans defeat the enemy within.

“We do return with quite a bit of guilt and a lack of purpose and fulfillment, and I needed that back because I am no good to anyone else if I am no good to myself,” Lee said.

And so A Vicious Cycle was born. Last year, Lee started a 4,000 mile bicycle tour to raise awareness of veteran suicides and talk to veterans along the way.

Halfway through the journey, she hit by a truck in Colorado. She suffered a torn ligament. Now she has recovered and is ready to finish what she started.

Her grit and purpose caught the eye of a motorcycle support group called 'A Ride for the Wounded,' which now raises money for her year round.

“You can raise a million dollars, and that's great but if you can save one life, to take someone from dark to light, it makes a big difference," said Steven Beck with A Ride for the Wounded.

Sarah Lee, who was forced to give up her career as soldier after an injury, has a new career. She said it feels like a mission.

“I have to honor my friends' sacrifice by not wasting any more of my days,” Lee said.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Click here for a link to all he events surrounding the The Wall That Heals in Cookeville.

Here’s Sarah’s blog and more about her not for profit A Vicious Cycle.

A Ride for the Wounded leaves from Boswell’s Harley Davidson at 11 a.m. on Saturday. It continues to Cookeville and then on to The Wall That Heals. The cost per motorcycle is $40, and all proceeds go to A Vicious Cycle.

REGISTER HERE: http://www.arideforthewounded.org/Ride-Registration/

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