Never Quit March for Post Traumatic Stress Awareness

KenMeyer_0Honors the 19 servicemen who lost their lives in Operation Red Wings
By Brenda Cannon Henley, Senior Correspondent
Ken Meyer of Conroe, Texas, remembers, as do many other servicemen and women and their families. Some things are simply too sacred not to be remembered and honored. Meyer’s way of honoring these brave souls is a bit unusual, but one that will certainly stand out in the minds of those he meets on his 628-mile journey. He, along with his faithful service dog, Hope, will be walking to bring honor and awareness to these service personnel and to call to our attention the 22 veterans that take their own lives each day from Post Traumatic Stress. (PTS)

US Air Force Security Police Veteran Ken Meyer who will walk 628 miles to raise awareness for PTS

US Air Force Security Police Veteran Ken Meyer who will walk 628 miles to raise awareness for PTS

Never Quit March itinerary (click image for larger view)


Never Quit March itinerary
(click image for larger view)

I have just a bit of personal experience with PTS, but nothing like many of these veterans do upon returning home. Their family members pay a huge price, too, for their willingness to serve our country and many go far too underappreciated or cared for in today’s society. One busy July 4th in the Atlanta, GA area, my mother was busy planning an outdoor picnic and was so excited because my brother, whom I adored, was to be home from Viet Nam and joining us so that family members could see him after his time in the service. I had named my son for him while he served in the US Army and he was delighted with the big baby boy. We decided to hold our family picnic on the grounds of the beautiful Stone Mountain Park, just east of Atlanta. None of us were aware of what John had gone through while in the steamy jungles of Nam, or how he was feeling at the time.

First of a three-part series. Next week, more about Operation Red Wings, the men Ken is honoring, his dog Hope and their importance as service animals.

We, like any other family, were just so glad to have him home safe and sound (or so we thought at the time), and wanted to do something special for him and for our relatives who loved him so. We prepared wonderful good food including fried chicken, potato salad, sandwiches, melons, cookies and cake, and cold drinks. I noticed that John was very quiet and did not seem too excited at the time, but I thought he was just tired and perhaps a bit baffled about being home again after having been in such a horrible combat zone in Nam. We arrived at the park and enjoyed our meal and the fellowship. Just at dusky dark, the first mighty sounds of the extensive fireworks began. My brother, a big, tall, lanky 6’ 6”, heard that sound, too. He literally ducked and ran to the car. I saw him leave the area and ran after him. He was huddled in the back seat of the car with his hands over his head crying. I knelt by him and patted his arm and shoulder and told him as best I could everything was all right and that it would be over soon. But, for my brother, it wasn’t over soon, and it was not a quick trip for his family either.

Every day 22+ Veterans take their own lives. Burdened with the stigma associated with mental health issues and the military “shame” surrounding PTS (Post Traumatic Stress), they instead turn to suicide as their only option to relieve suffering. [Source: stopsoldiersuicide.org]

Every day 22+ Veterans take their own lives. Burdened with the stigma associated with mental health issues and the military “shame” surrounding PTS (Post Traumatic Stress), they instead turn to suicide as their only option to relieve suffering.
[Source: stopsoldiersuicide.org]

PTS had not been in the news. Many medical professionals had not studied the affliction haunting our veterans and certainly local family doctors had no news of how to treat the returning soldiers. Years went by and John found his own peace and eventually was able to return to normal living. I have often wondered what his nightmares were about when he cried out and hid under the cover and how he managed to act as normally as he did during family gatherings and trips. There are thousands of others that have not been so blessed.

Meyer is determined to change all that as best he can with this personal march to call attention to the ravages of war that continue throughout lifetimes. Meyer chooses not to add the word, ‘disorder,’ to the PTS, as some do. “Using disorder automatically adds a stigma. It’s an injury, many times resulting in one or more incidents related to trauma,” wrote Meyer. “People see a mental illness or disorder and are automatically judgmental. Taking off the word, ‘disorder’ helps to keep people open to learning about PTS. For some reason, mental health issues scare people and they tend to think that we are unbalanced and will possibly hurt someone.”

Hope, Ken Meyer's valuable service dog, will accompany him on his journey

Hope, Ken Meyer’s valuable service dog, will accompany him on his journey

Meyer is all set to begin his journey leaving from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #4709 in Conroe at 10:00 AM, on Saturday, April 16, 2016. The VFW is located at 1303 West Semands Avenue, in Conroe, and the public is invited to come out in support of Meyer and his service dog, Hope. We are attaching a complete itinerary of this walk so that folks can visit with him along the way to ask questions, to offer support, pose for photographs, and to learn more about this grave matter prevalent in our society today.

There will be stops in College Station, Bastrop, Temple/Killeen/Fort Hood, Waco, Midlothian, Ennis, Corsicana, Madisonville, Huntsville, Houston, and Galveston, before Meyer and Hope arrive and board the Bolivar Peninsula/Galveston Ferry for the final 19 kilometers to Crystal Beach for Texas Frog Fest 2016.

If you know someone suffering from PTS, tell them about Meyer’s walk. Encourage them to join him somewhere along the way and to get involved in spreading the word. These veterans will be honored during the event on Bolivar.

There are also opportunities for sponsorship for things that Meyer will need to complete this heroic effort. You may contact Meyer or respond to the Sponsor Form he has provided. All proceeds from Meyer’s endeavor will go toward the support of the Lone Survivor Foundation and the lovely new retreat facility on the Peninsula.

Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788,
or at brendacannonhenley@yahoo.com


Never Quit March for Post Traumatic Stress Awareness – Part Two


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