"This is a mark of how far you've come. Many of you are recovering from devastating injuries. Some of you have had to learn the basics all over again, how to stand again, how to walk again, how to run again,” said Obama at the White House event. “And now you're here today because that's what Soldiers Ride is all about, seeing each other through the finish line."
The seventh annual cycling rally is organized by the Wounded Warrior Project, which aids wounded servicemembers. The White House said the ride helps raise “awareness of our nation’s Wounded Warriors who battle the physical and psychological damages of war.”
Participants in the four-day event will cycle nearly 60 miles in total and were joined at the White House by Vice President Joe Biden, family members and representatives of the nation's armed forces
In his remarks, Obama drew attention a number of the participants, including Lt. Cmdr. John J. Terry, who lost his leg after an IED explosion in Afghanistan.
“"Reflecting on his service, he said he'd do it all again. Now he's got a new goal: getting in the best shape possible, so he can play with his three kids," said Obama.
“You inspire me with your courage, your resolve, your resilience, your tenacity, your optimism. It makes me proud to be your commander in chief,” the president told the riders.
“Every day I have the honor of serving as this country's commander in chief, and as long as I have that honor, I will keep fighting to make sure you and your families get the care and treatment and benefits that you have earned and deserve,” he vowed.
Obama said that as the nation prepares to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, more attention must be made to help returning servicemembers.
“When people ask of you to serve your country, to give your all, to make your sacrifices you've raised your hands, you've stepped up. You held up your end of the bargain,” said Obama.
“It's especially now, as we're winding down the war in Afghanistan after having ended over a decade of war, that we are standing up for you. Our obligations to our veterans endure for your entire lives,” he added.
“That's why we're here, not just during this ride but all year long.”