Running Boston Marathon 2016 for Veterans Charity

I am running the 2016 Boston Marathon to raise awareness for veteran transition through the Bush Center Military Service Initiative program, on behalf of sponsor Energi, Inc.

Running Boston 2016 for the Bush Center’s MSI

I’m very honored to run the 2016 Boston Marathon on behalf of the George W. Bush Institute’s Military Service Initiative (MSI). The MSI honors the service and sacrifice of post-9/11 veterans and military families by bridging the civilian-military divide and fostering a successful transition and reintegration from military service to civilian life.

I first joined the MSI in 2012 during a 4-day mountain biking event with President Bush and about 20 other warriors. The event was an incredible experience that opened the door to many lifelong friendships and provided a chance to laugh again when I needed it most. Since then, I have continued to work with the MSI to address important veterans issues such as how to provide proper veteran transition and eliminate the stigma of post-traumatic stress.

According to their MSI’s mission statement, their goal is “Through research, policy development, programs, and Presidential recognition, MSI informs, influences, and unites communities, non-profit organizations, businesses, academia, and philanthropy to maximize the health and well-being of post-9/11 veterans and military families, setting the conditions for a successful transition and their continued leadership as civilians.” This work includes presenting detailed research and policy recommendations as well as veteran transition information.

Why Run a Marathon?

When I first got out of the Marine Corps, I had a bucket list of things I wanted to do in life… running a marathon was one of them. I think that fighting in combat kind of does that to people, it’s a major eye opener that there are so many things in life to achieve and experience and that life is short. Additionally, it requires training, commitment and preparation.

I believe that running a marathon is an excellent way to show that you truly support a cause. Every single day of training makes you think about the organization that you are running for and it builds pride and sense of purpose in that mission.

In 2009, I ran my first marathon in Los Angeles to raise money for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which provides scholarships to the families of special operations personnel who have been killed or severely injured in combat. I had a goal of running sub 4 hours and I managed to finish in 3:50. It was a great feeling and I also raised $2.5k for SOWF.

I ran that LA marathon wearing a shirt that had photos of Alex Arredondo and Nick Skinner on it. Alex and Nick were two of our Marines killed during intense fighting in Najaf in August of 2004. Losing Alex and Nick was really hard because they were two of the most inspiring people I have ever met. I promised myself that I would live every single day to be worthy of their sacrifice… I still do my best to make good on that promise to this day.

I remember back then, that I always felt like I was running from something. I never felt at peace or satisfied. I think it always bothered me that great people like Alex and Nick were still being killed in combat while I was drinking beer in college. I wanted to do more and running a marathon was only the beginning. As I look towards the 2016 Boston Marathon, I am proud of how far I have come.

Why Support my 2016 Boston Marathon?

If I had to describe my transition from the Marine Corps into civilian life, I would use a single word: unprepared. I didn’t know much about writing a resume, applying for jobs or seeking mentorship and guidance. I have no idea what happened along the way but I found myself deeply depressed, suicidal and simply unable to care about anything at all.

In just a few years I had gone from the happy, fun-loving kid I was in high-school to a sort of Jekyll & Hyde personality as I struggled to find myself again after coming home from war. I’m still not quite able to put into words what went on inside me but I do know that it would have been much easier if I had someone there to guide, mentor and provide professional resources along the way.

Many of us leave the military and find that we are alone, unprepared and separated from people we loved enough to take a bullet for. We miss the camaraderie, the sense of purpose and the clearly defined values. To put it bluntly, we need better transition.

Summary

Veterans are not a monolithic group; we come in all makes, shapes and sizes. We need to eliminate the military/civilian divide, come together and start ensuring that the right resources are easily accessible for the right people at the right moment. This is what the Bush Institute MSI is working hard to achieve.

As I stated in the intro, the Bush Institute has been an amazing force in getting me to where I am today. Their efforts, research and initiatives have dramatically improved my life and helped me to achieve a successful transition.

I am running for the Bush Institute because I want to do everything I can to ensure that they continue to be successful in the mission of creating successful transition for all military veterans. Please join me in helping to support our nation’s service men and women by donating here to my 2016 Boston Marathon run for the George W. Bush Institute.

Thank you!


Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com on March 16, 2016.