I am excited and honored to announce that I will be running in the 2018 TCS New York Marathon in support of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Patriotism is something that runs deep in my bloodline and has affected various aspects of my life for as long as I can remember. Both of my grandpas, my father, and my fiancé have all served in the US military. I have witnessed first hand the dedication, sacrifice, and honor these men have displayed; I have also witnessed the patience, understanding, and selflessness military spouses and family members have to possess. Unusual work hours, missed holidays, and sometimes even months spent away from home. Having to be strong enough to understand that the mission has to come first, even if all you want is your loved one home with you on Christmas.
Three of the most influential men in my life have served in a war; no two the same war. All three affected differently. All three witnessing different degrees of horror. All three coping with things in their own way. I am lucky to say I haven’t lost any of them to mental health battles. Unfortunately, this is not the case for everyone. With approximately 20 veterans taking their own lives every day, risk for suicide amongst veterans is 22% higher than non-veteran Americans.
This is why, when trying to decide which charity I would be running for, I chose Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. This advocacy group offers an array of programs to post 9/11 veterans. With a focus on suicide prevention, IAVA works one-on-one to connect veterans to the best mental health resources available nationwide. They offer case management to help navigate the oftentimes convoluted government assistance available. Their research department strives to continuously find scalable solutions for veterans and their families. All of this only scratches the surface of the programs and subsequent impact IAVA makes.
On November 4th, as I run 26.2 miles through all five boroughs of New York, I hope to be able to channel the dedication, bravery, and determination the men and women of the US military display each and every day. Please consider donating to IAVA, to support the veterans who have fought for your freedom; and to support me, as 26.2 miles is a very long distance to run. Every dollar counts!