US, Israeli Wounded Vets Bond During Bike Ride

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JUDEAN HILLS, Israel -- Wounded soldiers from the United States and Israel recently teamed up on a cycling trip in Israel to share their experiences and encourage each other.

The cycling trip is sponsored by the Wounded Warrior Project and Friends of the Israel Defense Forces.

"Every year for the past four or five years we've brought Israeli Defense Force veterans who have disabilities to the New York ride," Jeremy Chwat, chief program officer of the Wounded Warrior Project, told CBN News.

"Then starting last year, Friends of the IDF invited us to bring American warriors here," he explained.

CBN News spent a day with the men as they toured Jerusalem's Old City and pedaled through the Judean Hills.

One of the wounded warrior cyclists, U.S. Marine Edward Schrank, lost part of his skull and left eye in Iraq.

"When they did the MRI for my head injury, they found my brain tumor. So if I had not been injured, I would have died that year from undiagnosed tumor," Schrank said.

Israeli combat medic Shachaf Segal was wounded three years ago in Gaza.

"A lot of years Israel felt pretty much alone in the war against terror," Segal said.

"And when America, sadly after 9/11, joined in -- it made us feel like there is somebody who is close to us and understands us now," he said.

IDF combat veteran Ron Weinrich was also enthusiastic about the trip.

"I just had an amazing bike ride with some of the American wounded vets," Weinrich said.

Born to Israeli parents, Weinrich grew up in the United States and was later wounded during the 2006 war with Lebanon while serving in the IDF.

"These guys who are here with us, who I have the great privilege of riding with, are guys who have been to where all the mess is and to where all the bad stuff is happening," Weinrich told CBN News.

"And so they have that contrast the same as I do as an Israeli and every other Israeli," he said.

"After a couple of days of riding, I realized, 'Wow, you know, this is something that really adds a tremendous value to our lives," Schrank said.

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Julie Stahl

Julie Stahl

CBN News Jerusalem Correspondent

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