Greg Hook, a 47-year-old Navy veteran, rides his trike bicycle across U.S. 77 during a training ride in Victoria. On April 4, Hook will leave from La Grange to traverse 12,000 miles by bike around the country in an effort to raise awareness for victims of PTSD as well as funds for Christian Warriors Retreat, a local organization. “I ride for those who can no longer ride,” Hook said. Madelynne Scales for The Victoria Advocate
He plans to traverse 12,000 miles around the border of America.
By trike bicycle.
Greg Hook, a 47-year-old Navy veteran, will ride 12,000 miles around the United States on his trike bicycle in effort to raise awareness of veterans suffering the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, a mental health problem that can develop after a person experiences a traumatic event such as combat.
“I ride for those who can no longer ride,” Hook said.
Hook had personal experience with PTSD after serving in the Navy for nine years, but it wasn’t until his son, William Hook, came back from Iraq in 2010 that he and his wife realized how strong the effects can be.
“There were several times that he didn’t recognize that I was his mom or that Greg was his dad in the moment of a flashback,” Cindy Hook said.
Cindy said William would wake from night terrors in search of his gun, thinking he was still in Iraq. She said she would have to physically hold him down until he relaxed. “There was a point when (William) would say how he can’t go on anymore,” Greg said.
On May 10, 2013, 26-year-old William was found dead in his home in Grove City, Ohio, after an accidental tramadol overdose, according to the Franklin County Coroner’s autopsy report. “That was a true test,” Cindy said. “This brought us to our breaking point.”
After William’s death, the couple moved to Victoria for a fresh start and to be closer to family, Greg said. But the burden of anger and guilt still weighed heavily on their shoulders. “I felt like I had failed him in life,” Greg said.
So in March 2017, the couple decided to seek help through the Christian Warriors Retreat, or CWR, a Victoria organization that offers Christian-based spiritual retreats to veterans and their families for free.
“It’s hard to get any kind of healing without first getting some sort of spiritual healing,” said Nicholas “Doc” Lowry, founder and spiritual director of the organization. Lowry, a former Marine corpsman and Iraq veteran, said the effectiveness of the retreats comes from being rooted in the Christian faith and incorporating a ministry of veterans for veterans. He said it’s like coming back to your home base, where you have people to relate to. “We understand where these individuals are coming from,” Lowry said. “We understand the nightmares; we understand the hypervigilance.” Retreats are scheduled twice a year for male veterans, once for female veterans and once for veterans’ wives at El Shaddai Ranch in Yorktown. Each retreat comprises roughly 8-20 people and includes activities such as personal testimony, small-group discussion and guest speakers.
Lowery said what Greg Hook plans to do is honorable, that raising awareness is important because in not sharing your story, you are putting someone who might be struggling at a disadvantage.
“What’s the importance of Christ if you and I just keep Him to ourselves?” Lowry asked. “It’s the same thing with Greg’s story or with Christian Warriors Retreat or any other organization out there that offers healing for these veterans.”
When asked what she thought was the first step in recovering from the loss of a child, Cindy said it was “realizing we were stuck.”
“(Christian Warriors Retreat) helped us see that,” Cindy said. “We were so stuck in where we were that we couldn’t move forward.”
And for Greg, it was this realization that gave him the push to move forward with his own mission: to cycle 12,000 miles around America in an effort to share his story and raise awareness and funds for CWR.
Greg will follow a route system developed by Adventure Cycling Association, a nonprofit organization focused on bicycle travel. Greg hopes to touch all four corners of the United States, starting April 4 and returning to Victoria in October.
Greg’s trip can be followed on his Facebook page. A GoFundMe account has been set up to receive donations for CWR, or people can donate directly to the organization, Greg said.
“Sometimes if you have that one sliver of hope or clarification, you can cling to that, and then it will grow,” Cindy said.
Greg Hook, a 47-year-old Navy veteran, reads a map for the California portion of his trip. Hook has a total of 30 maps outlining his itinerary in detail from Adventure Cycling Association, a nonprofit organization that encourages bicycle travel. Madelynne Scales for The Victoria Advocate
Greg Hook, 47, trains on an exercise bike at Gold’s Gym in Victoria. April 4, Hook will leave from La Grange to traverse 12,000 miles by trike bicycle across the country in an effort to raise awareness for victims of PTSD. Madelynne Scales for The Victoria Advocate
Greg Hook looks over Ball Airport Road in Victoria before starting a training bike ride. Greg said after he and his wife, Cindy, received healing from Christian Warriors Retreat, he hopes to share their story and raise awareness for other veterans suffering from PTSD. “Sometimes if you have that one sliver of hope or clarification, you can cling to that, and then it will grow,” Cindy Hook said. Madelynne Scales for The Victoria Advocate
Greg Hook wears a dog tag with his son William’s initials and a tent grommet given to him at the Christian Warriors Retreat event he attended in March 2017. The grommet is given to all retreat participants to symbolize the unity of all branches of military service. Madelynne Scales for The Victoria Advocate
Photos of the now-deceased William Hook hang on the wall inside Greg and Cindy’s home in Victoria. In the bottom photo, William is decorated as Superman because his favorite song was “Kryptonite” by 3 Doors Down. “The song asks ‘Will you still call me Superman?’ and he always asked us that when he was going through difficulties,” said Greg Hook. Madelynne Scales for The Victoria Advocate