From medals to pedals — Cycling helps veteran heal [VIDEO]

Marine Corps veteran Denny Salisbury, 26, was once a star high school football player, but after sustaining injuries during a tour in Iraq, a new sport helped him cope with his pain.

Marine Corps veteran Denny Salisbury, 26, was once a starting tight end and defensive end for his high school football team, the Kelseyville Knights. But after returning from active duty in Iraq, a doctor told him his body would never be the same.

The Kelseyville, Calif. resident was fighting in the battle for Fallujah in Iraq when an improvised explosive device hit a truck he was riding in. He watched several of his friends die right next to him. Salisbury was the only one from his troop to walk away from the explosion, but he sustained serious shrapnel wounds to his legs and burns to his face.

Since then, the road to recovery — both mentally and physically — has been a long one.

In July 2012, Salisbury started a three-month treatment program at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System in Menlo Park. It was there he discovered cycling and the nonprofit program, Ride 2 Recovery. (Story continues below.)

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Cycling and other recreation programs help treat post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries that veterans often struggle to overcome after returning from war.

Last October, Salisbury rode in the California Challenge, a 477-mile ride from San Francisco to Santa Monica, in memory of his fallen friends.

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