Conscious party: Bikes and bands support veterans’ healing

TWO-WHEELED WELLNESS: Veteran Bill Bowers, pictured with Marsha Bennett of Helios Warriors, says motorcycle riding and the holistic therapies he receives through Helios bring similar benefits to his mental state. “Riding gives you a great sense of just being there, listening to the hum of your bike,” he says, or noticing “the smell of the flowers, the shift in temperature from one place to the next. You use your senses in a way you don't get to in a car.” The two will lead a fundraiser ride on Sunday, Aug. 7. Photo by Caitlin Erwin

WHAT: A motorcycle ride and bar party for Helios Warriors

WHERE: Ole Shakey’s

WHEN: Sunday, Aug., 7, from 1-6 p.m. (ride at 11:30 a.m.)

WHY: “We find that veterans come out of the military with physical, emotional and spiritual trauma,” says Helios Warriors executive director and Army veteran Marsha Bennett. And with the help of about 24 volunteer practitioners, Helios is increasing these individuals’ access to low-cost, holistic forms of care like acupuncture, chiropractic services, reiki, biodynamic craniosacral therapy, emotion code therapy and more.

The nonprofit’s upcoming Help the Healing fundraiser will support just such services, though it hinges around a much more casual source of relief among veterans: motorcycle riding. Led by local Navy veteran Bill Bowers (plus Bennett in his passenger seat), a procession of bike-riding Helios supporters will depart from Ole Shakey’s at 11:30 a.m., and travel along the Blue Ridge Parkway before returning to the bar by 1 p.m. Riding costs $15 per driver plus $5 for a passenger and includes lunch.

“Once we get [back] to Ole Shakey’s, we’re going to have live music by local musicians Stevie Lee Combs and Caine McDonald of Raising Caine,” Bennett says. “We’re also planning a cornhole tournament.” Teams of four can enter for $20, and the action starts at 2 p.m.

Bennett has also organized a live and silent auction featuring restaurant gift certificates, local artwork and jewelry, “and then the really cool stuff that we have is autographed sports and music memoribilia,” she says. Those specially-sourced items come signed by entertainment icons like Johnny Cash, The Rolling Stones, Muhammad Ali and the cast of Star Wars.

Admission to the event is free, though attendees must be 21 or older and current members ($5) or guests at Ole Shakey’s. In-person registration for the motorcycle ride begins an hour before departure. Early registration and more event information are available at


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About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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12 thoughts on “Conscious party: Bikes and bands support veterans’ healing

  1. MATTO

    Chiropractors have lobbied for years to get VA reimbursements to serve VETS; and now they’re “volunteering” and giving away what costed them hundreds of thousands for their education….

    • Kat McReynolds

      Hello Jason (aka MATTO), Asheville is not on the list you linked to, and when I called the local VA, I was told by an operator that they do not offer chiropractic services. That doesn’t necessarily mean the reimbursement program doesn’t exist, but if veterans aren’t told about it, they obviously can’t take advantage of it. In any case, I’ll pass your comments on to Marsha, as she may know more about this or want to further inquire among her contacts.

      Also, it’s best to stick with one name per comment thread.

      Thanks! — Kat

  2. MATTO

    “When it is not offered on-site at a veterans’ local facility, chiropractic care is available through the non-VA care process or the Veterans’ Choice Program.”

    Sadly whomever runs Helios Warriors doesn’t know this…?

    • Kat McReynolds

      I have contacted the VA’s media team to get a firm answer on what services are available. I’ll share any additional info as I get it.

    • Kat McReynolds

      While we’re waiting for a firm update, I have edited the article and removed the VA reference altogether. I will still share the VA’s statement when I get it. Either way, it is accurate to say Helios is increasing access to holistic therapies.

      Jason, thank you for pointing out the possible discrepancy. I should have contacted the VA’s media team about their chiropractic/acupunture programs to begin with and will do so next time.

    • Kat McReynolds

      From the VA’s media team: “I can confirm that we do provide acupuncture at the medical center and chiropractic care is being provided in the community through the choice program, paid for by the VA. Other therapies provided by the VA include Bio Feedback and Manipulative Therapy.”

      This may not be a complete list of holistic therapies available through the VA. Again, thanks for bringing this to my attention.

  3. Jason

    I wasn’t disputing that Helios Warriors is in fact arranging for these services for veterans free of charge. I was a practicing chiropractor; whom was asked by Helios Warriors to volunteer services to VETS. Both Malpractice liability insurance and the American chiropractic Association (ACA) strongly suggested that I/we NOT, b/c there are proper channels for veterans thru the VA to seek our treatments.

    • Marsha Bennett

      Hi, Jason. Thank you for your comments. We at Helios Warriors are familiar with the VA’s Choice Program, and it’s exciting that the VA is beginning to focus more on holistic therapies that can be very beneficial in addressing a number of health and wellbeing issues that our veterans face. We’re happy to offer veterans in Western North Carolina another option for holistic therapies, and many of our veteran clients seek dual care with the VA and Helios Warriors. Our volunteer practitioners offer several modalities that aren’t available at the local VA and they all do so because they care about our veterans and are invested, as members of our community, in healing this population. Just a note, our services are not free, but they are low-cost, on a sliding scale, and no veteran is ever turned away due to their inability to pay. Thank you for your service as a chiropractor and for caring about our vets!

      Marsha Bennett
      Helios Warriors Executive Director

  4. Kat McReynolds

    An additional update from the VA: The Charles George VA medical center offers a broad spectrum of health care services to our Veterans. Our services begin with a Veteran’s Patient Aligned Care Team and primary care provider. The primary care provider helps patients navigate what approaches of care might work best for their individualized health care needs. If a patient is experiencing chronic pain, one of those avenues of care might be our Integrative Pain Management Program which offers acupuncture, biofeedback, manual manipulation and Tai Chi. These types of therapies are known as Complementary and Alternative Medicine. However, CAM interventions at our facility do not necessarily fall under one particular service but are integrated throughout our health care system. For example: physical therapy offers craniosacral treatment, myofascial release and manual manipulation, inpatients are offered healing touch, mental health provides trauma resiliency and somatic experiencing, primary care offers mindfulness therapy, and chiropractic care is being scheduled and paid for through the VA’s Choice program and provided in the community. It is important to note that all of these therapies are provider prescribed for Veterans qualified for VA health care. Many agencies in the community accept self-referrals and provide therapies for Veterans who may not qualify for VA health care.

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