San Diegan to be honored in Washington DC on Memorial Day

Marine Veteran will be part of national ceremony
Posted at 6:38 AM, May 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-25 15:10:35-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A local Marine Corps veteran will be part of the National Memorial Day Concert in Washington, D.C. He'll be honored for his service, and the work he does with other veterans who have PTSD.

Bill Rider is the founder of American Combat Veterans of War, a non-profit that he started in 2013.

"We let them know we're going to be there for them, we mentor them," Rider said about his group. "Just about anything and everything they could possibly need, ACVOW does."

ACVOW runs programs that help veterans cope with PTSD. Their "Veterans Moving Forward" program visits vets at the Vista Detention Center. Its goal is to reduce recidivism rates to below 10% for veterans.

Another program called Safe Warrior Outreach pairs younger veterans with older veterans to talk through their struggles and share stories.

"We're trying to chip away at the stigma of PTSD," said Rider. "Human beings were not meant to watch their friends be killed in such a visceral way. And, they're not meant to kill other human beings."

It's an issue he has first-hand experience with. Rider joined the Marine Corps when he was 19 years old and was part of the 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment. That regiment became famous for its part in the battle of Khe Sahn, where it had the highest casualty rate in Marine Corps history.

"It was, on a daily basis, a visceral passing of Marines and warriors," said Rider. "In one battle, we lost 45 or 50 people, and another 150 were wounded."

Rider left the Marines in 1969. When he returned home, it wasn't long before the lingering effects of PTSD started to show.

"The way I knew something was quite different was when I was transferred back to my little hometown in Ohio. A car backfired, and I instinctively laid out on the sidewalk, expecting more shots," he said.

Now he's dedicated his life to helping other vets who deal with PTSD. His story and his non-profit will be profiled as part of the concert Sunday Night.

"It's a huge honor," he said. 

And it's a way for him to bring more attention to ACVOW, and get more help for warriors in San Diego.

For more information on American Combat Veterans of War, or to volunteer or donate, click here