Ken Meyer raising PTS awareness throughout Texas

KM_0426-0By Brenda Cannon Henley, Senior Correspondent
US Air Force Security Police Veteran Ken Meyer and his faithful service dog Hope set off on their 628-mile march across Texas from Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #4709 in Conroe, Texas, on Saturday, April 16. Meyer has met with challenges and obstacles along the way during the first ten days, just as he has in many areas of his life.

Meyer has encountered torrential, historic flooding across his beloved state, thunderstorms with heavy lightening and rolling thunder that drove even first responders inside for safety reasons, blisters, a sprained ankle, and a limp in one of Hope’s legs. He is pressing on and says that everywhere he goes he finds people are interested in what he is doing. “They are as eager as I am to get the word out about Post Traumatic Stress Awareness and I have met soldiers, sailors, and flyboys, as well as their wonderful families,” said Meyer. “It has been my honor to get to know many of these people and bask in their love and support. We are definitely bringing awareness to a plight many are not familiar with unless they have a service member in their family or community.”

Final article in a three-part series about Ken Meyer’s Never Quit March for PTS Awareness. Read:
Never Quit March for PTS Awareness, Part I
Never Quit March for PTS Awareness, Part II

Now, don’t mess up here and add the big “D” for “disorder” to the end of PTS. If you know Meyer at all, you will recognize that he does not like to have the disorder added. He will abide by an “A” for “awareness,” but not the “D” because Meyer said that when you add the disorder, it makes people fear the service member. “They begin to think we are mentally unstable and that we might hurt them or their family. It brings a stigma to the entire realm and we do not want any more than we already have.”

Meyer, his family, close friends, many volunteers, sponsors, and buddies from service have planned every mile of this journey meticulously and every choice he has made is symbolic of something he wants to imprint on the minds of his followers and those he will meet along the way. The 628 miles was chosen to represent the date of June 28, 2005 when Operation Redwings took place. This particular battle was brought to the forefront of America’s collective minds when the film Lone Survivor blasted across movie screens telling the story of Marcus Luttrell and his squad. Meyer alternates walking between 19 and 22 miles each day and even that is symbolic. The 19 represents the 19 service personnel killed in the battle on the lonely mountainside and the 22 denotes the number of men and women who take their own lives each day due to PTS.

“We have to have purpose even though we have had counseling and help. We must have purpose,” said Meyer, who still suffers fro PTS. “I want to complete this journey to help put this matter on the front burners for government officials, politicians, community leaders, and for the families of those who suffer every day.

Meyer is not alone in his effort. His wife, Judi, has been constantly supportive of his idea, plan, and the carrying out of this adventure. Their three children, two girls now ages 16 and 21, and one son, now age 19, have also been on board as their father made history for something he believes in so deeply.

US Air Force Security Police Veteran Ken Meyer and his faithful service dog Hope set off on their 628-mile march across Texas.

US Air Force Security Police Veteran Ken Meyer and his faithful service dog Hope set off on their 628-mile march across Texas.

“I could not ask for a more supportive family,” said Meyer. “For years, I gave them hell before I got help, and I cannot put a value on what they have given me in return.” Meyer also added this his patriotic roots run deep and that he came from a military family.

Hope, Meyer’s service dog, is also on this journey to help create awareness. Meyer says he got Hope when she was seven weeks old from a breeder and that the pup came from a service dog family. “I paid for her myself, but TriCounty K9 in Montgomery gave me a big discount for her training.” Meyer says that Hope is a Labrador and is now 15 months old. “She means the world to me,” Meyer said smiling. “She is a life-changer.”

The Air Force veteran said that Hope wakes him up from horrible nightmares and alerts me when I get stressed or anxious. “Hope licks my face, which keeps me from disassociating or completely blacking out and she will keep doing this until I come back.” Meyer said the very intelligent dog blocks people from getting too close by placing her body between them and him. Hope also watches Meyer’s back and lets him know when someone is walking up to him by tapping him on the leg. Hope is also trained to remind Meyer to take his morning medicines. “I like to tell people that she is no different than a piece of medical equipment. An example that comes to mind would be patients who need oxygen 24/7. She’s my oxygen. When someone is in a wheelchair, she is my wheelchair. You don’t ask a stranger why they are in a wheelchair. I wish we could teach folks not to ask why someone needs a service dog. You would be surprised how many times I have heard, ‘What is wrong with you?’ or ‘Well, why do you need a service dog?’ Eyes are often deceiving and many illnesses cannot be visualized,” said Meyer.

Meyer’s PTS stems in part from his military days, but he also endured another traumatic incident when he returned home and was hiking in Montana in 2007. He was attacked by a huge grizzly bear and suffered injuries that should have left him dead according to some opinions. He also has seen explosions and other work related incidences in his profession as a safety expert often working in refineries and plants. Meyer was also a first responder at the World Trade Center bombings and all of the combined trauma worked him over before he sought and obtained real help.

Meyer has vowed he will do all he can to draw awareness to the serious plight these men and women are now suffering and those who will come home from serving our country to face personal battles on the home front. He wants to see that 22 deaths each day reduced and eventually conquered. People are welcome to join him on any leg of the journey, which will conclude after a ferry ride to the Bolivar Peninsula to open this year’s much anticipated Frog Fest on May 28. All proceeds will go to fund the Lone Survivor Retreat located on the Peninsula. Follow Meyer’s journey on his Facebook page, Instagram, or by email.

Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788

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