Thursday, December 5, 2013

What is Run Ranger Run?

Run Ranger Run then...

In the past month, there has been more people joining the Run Ranger Run Facebook page. A question that I get more than any other is, "What is this thing all about?"  So, instead of having to sending the same message out, I figured I'd go ahead and knock out an all encompassing entry to hopefully answer any of those questions.

Run Ranger Run, like most things, started out as an idea.  At the time, my daughter's mother and I were going through marital difficulty.  At the time, I was assigned to 3/75 Rgr Rgt at Ft Benning, GA.  My daughter and her mother had moved back to Indianapolis, and signs of salvaging the marriage were no where to be found.  I was still had an obligation to my country, and was held in place until my time in service had been concluded.

The day before initiating the journey
After my daughter left, coming home from work was the worst part of my day. It felt like I was a stranger in my own place.  I started running to escape reality.  On the first Tuesday of October, 2011, I was joking around with my pastor about having the idea of running home.  As I laid down on my inflatable mattress that evening, I couldn't get the idea of running home out of my head.  So, the next day when I got home from work, I started running.  That night, I ran twelve miles (the furthest I've ran at one time).  Over the next two months, my mission was to get home to my daughter, and help highlight the struggles that Veterans go through as they transition out of the military.

Run Ranger Run now...

Run Ranger Run is camaraderie.  Run Ranger Run is teamwork.  Run Ranger Run is never giving up on each other, and completing the mission together.

Run Ranger Run is a month long event where teams of two to ten people complete a total of 565 miles in the 28 days of February, replicating the distance and time it took me to make it home.  Individuals on the team don't have to be geographically located near each other, which makes this such a great way to reconnect with friends, other service members, and family across the world.  The mileage that teams track can come from running, walking, biking, etc.  So, if there is ten people on a team, each person has to average 56.5 miles for the entire month (which averages a little bit over 2 miles per day).

This past year, Run Ranger Run had teams participating in three different continents and completed enough mileage to circumnavigate the world 1.5 times.  Many teams ran in remembrance of fallen heroes, naming their team after those individuals.  But, no matter the reason for certain teams running, the miles that were accumulated changed lives.  Not only did it bring the community together, but it showed war-fighters that there is a vast network of folks out there ready to support them as they transition into the unknown (see below for note from Karl on how we use the funds).

The run changed my life.  It gave me a new perspective on life, and the vision to overcome the obstacles in front of me...one step at a time.

To sign up as a team, or to join a team go to the Run Ranger Run home page.  


It felt great to have her back in my arms
Karl writes:

With Cory's OK we decided to expand on and honor his initial achievement.  Since most of us are not athletes of Cory's caliber, we thought that teams of ten could accomplish what the team of one - Cory did - 565 miles in 28 days.  

The number one goal of Run Ranger Run is awareness.  Awareness of veteran issues and what GallantFew does to help veterans.  The second priority is fund-raising.

Many nonprofits hold banquets, large 10k races or other events that cost a lot of money and raise relatively little after expenses are paid.  Last year the first ever RRR raised over $125,000 at a cost of about $17,000 (to pay for tees, credit card transaction fees, etc).  The majority of that money is still in the bank.

We have plans to hire some social worker case managers that can help us facilitate mentoring relationships.  We are funding 1kVets with six month subscriptions for veterans.  This great partnership with a for-profit company that has built a fantastic tool to help leverage social media like LinkedIn really amps up a veteran's job search.  That service typically costs about $100/month, we are getting six month access for one veteran for $150.  We want to provide this to initially 1000 veterans (that will cost us $150,000).  Already about 20 veterans are enrolled.  If you need employment help, go here and sign up.

Another program is ground-breaking PTSD therapy led by Dr Carrie Elk out of Tampa, Florida.  We want to bring her to locations across the country to help veterans learn unique and powerful methods to defeat PTSD. Her methods have helped a number of Special Operations veterans in a secure, confidential manner.

There are many more initiatives, too much to write here.  On a personal note, I am the only paid full-time GallantFew employee.  The first two and a half years I was unpaid.  I am not retired from the military, although I do receive a partial VA disability.  Starting in 2012 the board voted to pay me $36,000 a year (it was that or I had to cut back time here and get a job).  Mid 2013 they raised me to a level that next year is $50,000.  I will not take a dollar more in salary from GallantFew, and I pray for the day I can do it again for free.

Much of the intimate, personal work we did (and I say WE because of the volunteers) is too private to openly discuss.  We will never parade a veteran's problems around on TV to ask for money, and RRR allows us to fund-raise during one time period a year and not ping you every day for money.  We have prevented suicides, prevented homelessness, helped veterans get great jobs and created great relationships.  We have also begun pushing our message that it's the military's job to make civilians into soldiers, not soldiers into civilians.  They need to keep their focus there.  It is the responsibility of each and every community to welcome veterans and assist them in their transition home.  Your help and involvement in Run Ranger Run helps ensure we will expand that message, expand our capacity and do more and better work for more and more veterans.  ~Karl

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