Organizations like Wounded Warrior Project® help wounded warrior Jarrad Turner give back to brothers in arms by connecting veterans with the military benefits they earned during their service.
ATLANTA (June 27, 2017) – Just days after returning from a grueling eight-day run and march, Jarrad Turner was back in the gym.
“Just walking on the treadmill for a couple of miles,” the Army veteran said. “Running will not exist for at least a couple of weeks.”
Jarrad was also back on the job at Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) connecting veterans with the military benefits they earned during their service. For more than a week, Jarrad joined other veterans, volunteers, and supporters to increase awareness about veteran suicide and raise funds to treat military post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta.
Participants in the run and march progressed about 22 kilometers (15 miles) per day through eight cities from Shanksville, Pennsylvania, to Atlanta, carrying 22-pound vests to signify the 22 veteran suicides per day. Some days, members of the group carried an additional 71 pounds in their rucksacks, bringing the added weight total to 93 pounds, representative of Flight 93. On that flight, brave passengers brought the plane down to stop terrorists from using the jetliner as a weapon. The memorial to these passengers served as the starting point for this journey.
With each stop along the way, the group shared its message and its mileage.
“Folks would join us carrying their own rucksack. After a few miles, they would open up to you. There was a guy who joined near Asheville, North Carolina. We connected because we’re both medics. He shared things he hasn’t talked about with anybody.”
These opportunities opened up the eyes of veterans like Jarrad.
“It reinforced why we did the run. To know there is the program at the Shepherd Center, to you know you have Wounded Warrior Project behind you, it is a good feeling.”
So why did Jarrad run 120 miles?
“There are a lot of reasons to get involved,” Jarrad explained. “I do it for Specialist Steven Cruz, a brother who lost his battle with PTSD, and his family. I also do it because I have the opportunity to give back. Wounded Warrior Project gave me the chance to raise awareness about the help veterans need.”
Jarrad has taken part in the run and march with Shepherd’s Men for three years. Each day is a new journey in itself.
“Going to the Flight 93 memorial, listening to some of the phone calls and voice mails that passengers left for their families. These passengers made the decision to take that plane down. But they don’t get the recognition victims in New York and at the Pentagon receive.
Running into Washington, DC and seeing the memorials to service members in this setting was very special. We also marched into Arlington National Cemetery, the culmination of a six-hour ruck. It was a rough trek because my support broke, so I had all the weight rubbing directly on my shoulders. I had blood dripping off me, and a lot of pain. The 93 pounds has a way of beating on you. It was rough. But going into Arlington reminded me why we have to keep going.”
Jarrad said one of the toughest things about the run and march is being away from his family.
For more than a week, Jarrad joined other veterans, volunteers, and supporters to increase awareness about veteran mental health.
“I don’t spend a lot of time away from my kids; I had to do that enough in the military. My oldest is 19, and she understands why it is important. My younger kids are starting to get it – I have to do this for other veterans.”
Jarrad hopes all veterans take one thing away from his journey with 14 other veterans and supporters.
“You didn’t go into battle by yourself, so why are you trying to fight PTSD alone? If you look at the logo we all wear, that logo is a soldier carrying another soldier. It is OK to let someone lend a hand sometimes.”
While Jarrad is still recovering from the run and march – he said it will take at least two to three weeks – he already knows he will be involved again next year.
“We are already planning our route for 2018, and we are thinking of running through the south, finishing in Atlanta.”
When asked about this same grueling 120 miles in the south, in the summertime, he hesitated but answered with resolve.
“Yeah. The south. In the summer. I’ll definitely do it again.”
WWP connects veterans with one another and serves them with life-saving programs and services targeting mental and physical health and wellness, career and benefits counseling, and long-term support for the most seriously wounded. WWP empowers warriors to live life on their terms and mentor others.
Learn and see more about Jarrad’s journey at newsroom.woundedwarriorproject.org, and click on multimedia.
Contact: Rob Louis – Public Relations
About Wounded Warrior Project
Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) connects, serves, and empowers wounded warriors. Read more at newsroom.woundedwarriorproject.org/about-us.