What Is Running 50?
My name is David Chrisinger. That’s me on the right in the picture below. On the left–that’s my friend, Brett Foley.
Three years ago, Brett came home from Afghanistan after the end of his second and final combat deployment. For him–and many other veterans–coming home was actually more difficult than going to war.
As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to wind down over the next few years, an estimated 1 million military service members will make the same transition Brett just made. And like Brett, many of these new veterans will need help fighting the battles that follow them home.
In order to help these veterans find renewed strength and purpose, Brett and I are running a 50-mile Ultramarathon on October 26th, 2013, to raise $10,000 for The Mission Continues, a national service organization that helps veterans transition from the military to service and leadership programs where they can continue to serve in their communities. Through their service, Mission Continues Fellows are able to not only help build stronger communities, but they are also afforded the opportunity to become role models and citizen leaders.
While we train for this race and raise money for The Mission Continues, we will also be sharing Brett’s story. It is our hope that by sharing Brett’s struggles (as well as his triumphs), we can make meaning amid the suffering and show other veterans that it is possible for them to take back their lives.
What Is the Mission Continues?
The Mission Continues was founded in 2007 by Eric Greitens, a Rhodes Scholar who earned a Doctorate from Oxford University, has served as a humanitarian all over the world, and who also became a decorated Navy SEAL. Believing that we need veterans to use their strength to serve here at home, Greitens created The Mission Continues to provide veterans “with a challenge and the opportunity to rebuild a meaningful life by serving again in communities here at home.”
How Can You Help?
As we look to the future, much is still unknown about the war in Afghanistan. We do know, however, that the startling effects of that war will be felt for many years to come.
It is our hope that by raising money for an organization that supports and empowers veterans who are making the challenging transition from military to civilian life, we will be able to exhibit the values veterans of every generation have so unselfishly displayed.
But we can’t do it without you!
Please Donate now! to show our veterans that we need their strength and courage here at home!
“Would you do it all again,” I asked him late one night after he had gotten home from Afghanistan. Without hesitation, Brett responded: “Yes.”
After a short pause, he continued, “Even though it fucked me up, I would do it all again in a heartbeat.”
He could only swallow back the numbness. “After four deployments and two wars, I realize that I’ll never be the same–I’ll never be able to forget.”
That break in his voice shot me past the veneer of his normally quiet reserve into his hard-to-discuss horror.
Brett and I went to high school together. On the night before he left for boot camp, I threw a small party for him, and while everyone else was hanging out in the basement, Brett and I crawled out on the roof so we could talk and look at the stars in the cloudless night sky. We mostly talked about the past–all the fun times we had playing paintball in our backyards and sitting on the bench together during freshmen baseball.
I wanted to ask him if he was scared, but I thought better of it. We were both worried about the future. That’s human nature, I suppose–especially when it feels like your dreams might not come true.
I didn’t see very much of Brett after he left. I sent him a couple of letters while he was in boot camp–he only got one of them though. My dad ran into Brett a couple of times while he was home on leave. I would call his girlfriend (now wife), Whitney, from time to time to see how she was holding up. I only found out he had been deployed to Iraq after he posted pictures of his “Spring Break in Baghdad” on Facebook.
In the fall of 2009, I got an invitation to Brett and Whitney’s wedding, which had to take place sometime in the two weeks Brett was going to be home–before he deployed to Afghanistan.
When I saw Brett that day, I realized how much I had missed my friend. While I was busy enjoying college, Brett had circled the globe and fought a war in Iraq. When we finally got a moment to talk, I didn’t really know what to say. I asked him if he was worried about being deployed, considering that after eight years of fighting, a growing and fanatical insurgency still controlled most of Helmand Province (where Brett was to be deployed).
“No, not really. They’ve got me hooked up with a pretty good assignment. I shouldn’t really see much fighting.”