Apr 10, 2017 | By: Chele Jones Photography, Austin Texas
Meet Alice Hoffman! I interviewed Alice after a photoshoot with her, at her home and around Austin, to learn about her incredible project she talks about in the video above! Her passion for this project obviously speaks from a very personal experience and place in her heart. Her expedition across the USA begins in NINE DAYS!
Read my Q&A with her, below, as she opens up about her own experience and why it's so important not to discriminate. Please please take a moment to share and donate - even if it's just $5 - it will help her go the distance to champion this important cause for those who have served and continue to serve our country! She has accomplished everything she needs to make this happen except the enough financial support needed to sustain the 3 month journey - and that is something that we can all continue as she rides. Check out her facebook page @RestoreHonorRidefor up-to-date news on her expedition, and heartfelt stories from veterans who will tell you firsthand, why this ride is so important! Thank you for all you do! GO ALICE!
Above video by Manza Film Productions . All Photos below by Chele Jones Photography
Tell me the facts about Restore Honor Ride:
Where: Santa Monica, CA along Rt 66 through CA, AZ, NM, TX panhandle, OK, MO, IL, KY, VA and into Washington, DC
Why: To recognize and honor the hundreds of thousands of patriotic LGBT Veterans who suffered discrimination while in the military and help them get the benefits that they deserve.
What feeds your passion for this cause?
I'm passionate about this because hundreds of thousands of Veterans have been discharged simply for being gay. Their lives were torn apart and in some cases destroyed by what the military did to them and how they were treated. Many of them were interrogated and threatened as if they were criminals. I want their stories known and I want them to receive the honor and recognition that they deserve. I want them to be complete with the past so that they can move forward with honor and dignity.
What gave you the idea to "ride" - what does "riding" represent to you in this mission?
I wanted to do something that would get people's attention and give me an opportunity to meet Veterans around the country. The time frame of 3 months is reasonable, yet challenging. Cycling is a great way to see parts of the country that I wouldn't ordinarily see when driving and an opportunity to meet people and communities that I wouldn't ordinarily meet.
Is cycling something that you have always done?
I've never cycled for the sport of it. In fact, I haven't cycled at all for at least 15 years. I sold my last bike when I had my dog, Champ, who was scared of bikes.
What is your training regimen? How are you preparing for the ride?
So far, I've been building up endurance and speed. I started riding with a beginners group which rode around 9 miles at a leisurely pace. I've so far built up to 42 miles at a faster pace and working in some hills. I have yet to do some of the bigger hills in town, so that would be my next challenge. I will probably start working with a trainer for at least the last 3 months before the ride. It's also important to remember (and remind myself) that my priority is endurance and not speed.
How long will the ride take? What is the strategy?
The ride is approximately 3500 miles. I plan to ride 50 miles a day, 6 days a week. That will take approximately 12 weeks or 3 months. I will use the Adventure Cycling Route Network with detailed maps specifically for cyclists. I have a support team to drive the RV and set up every day in a new location.
Will anyone else be riding with you?
I hope that other people will ride with me. I definitely welcome the company. It would be quite lonely to ride 3500 miles by myself. I've had some interest from adventure cyclists who are looking for companions. I will also post the specific route on our website, www.restorehonorride.org so that anyone can plan to join along the route. I will not be able to give an exact date when I will be at their location, but I will be video blogging along the way. I also plan to have a GPS tracker on me so that anyone can see where I am. The routes that I think might be most popular are Albuquerque to Santa Fe, across the Texas panhandle through Amarillo, Oklahoma City to Tulsa, and Fredericksburg VA to Washington DC. It would be great to finish the last leg into DC with hundreds of Veterans.
For those who want to join, how might they go about signing up?
Manpower: There are a number of areas that we need support such as Social media- people to help this go viral and anyone who can solicit sponsorships
Sponsors needed: LGBT businesses, Veteran owned businesses , Bicycle Companies, and any other businesses, web, and social media support.
Pet Care: I intend to bring my pets along with me (2 dogs and 1 cat) which is why we need an SUV and a travel trailer.
Tell us about your fur-babies pictured here.
In order of age from older to younger, Baxter (Golden Retriever), Bodhi(GR), and Ace (Yellow Lab). My cat's name is Chela.
( note: Chela was absent during most of our photoshoot, but I did get to meet her briefly - sweet Baxter passed away about a month after these portraits were made.)
Did you serve in the military?
Yes, I was active duty Army for almost 10 years and then Texas Army National Guard for one more year - 11 years total.
What was your personal experience in the military and how did it inspire this incredible journey?
There's just no way I can write this. It would take a book. But as far as being gay in the military, I can say that I always had to be on my guard. I always had to consider who I was talking to, I could never reveal anything personal about myself, I hardly ever invited anyone to come to my home, and I always had to consider how things looked. If I spent too much time with another female, it might "look" like we were doing something. It forced me to become very private and secluded. It took me many years to overcome this. I might have stayed longer in the Army, but I never felt secure, because I knew that at anytime someone could "out" me to my Commander, and I could end up discharged and without my pension even if I had faithfully served 19 years and 364 days.
We want to hear about your book that just came out! ( I bought one, but humor me for the readers )
It's called An Intimate Conversation with my Younger Self and it came out in January 2017! You can get it HEREon Amazon . The book is about me and my journey and the lessons that I've learned along the way in my life. It took me over 50 years to learn the lessons that I reveal in this book. My hope is that by reading it, other people can learn these lessons at a younger age and bypass some of the suffering that I have endured. In connection with my book, I intend to create some speeches and start speaking at more events, thereby giving me a venue for promoting my book. Social media support would be greatly appreciated, as well.
I have started a 501c3 non-profit called Restore Honor Ride and I would like to continue speaking and finding and talking with Veterans. Every LGBT Vet deserves to be honored for their service, and I will do my best to find them all.
What do you hope to accomplish, other than awareness, by making this ride happen?
There's actually two parts to the awareness. I want to find the LBGT Veterans and make sure they are taken care of, being acknowledged and getting their discharges upgraded. I also want to educate the general public about previous military policies and how LGBT service members were treated. I want them to be shocked and disturbed, so that this never happens again. With enough public support, maybe the Restore Honor to Service Members Act will be passed, and discharges for being gay will be automatically upgraded.
If there is anything else you would like to add - your tears the other day during your speech really got our attention! You got a standing ovation that day. I'm excited for you!
Thanks, Michele. There's so much more to say and it would take hours and days. My website is up and there is more information there. I'll continue sharing. I'm curious to see what you're going to do with this.
Again, Alice, I thank you for all you have done and are doing for our country and being the change you wish to see in this world! This is how it's done! You are a hero and an inspiration and I sincerely wish you safe travels and a far reach of inspiration on your long journey! I will be cheering you on as I watch your story unfold and you change lives all over the US. ~ XOXO, Chele Jones