Man running for vets passes through Milan on way to New York
By Logan Watson
A man jogging down the highway doesn’t usually attract much attention, even in last Tuesday’s cold rain, but when that man is being trailed by a star-spangled pickup with two American flags whipping in the wind, people begin to take notice.
Endurance runner George Chmiel passed through West Tennessee last week as part of his “Beastmode for the Brave” run across America to bring awareness to the tragic trend of suicide among U.S. combat veterans.
“Twenty-two suicides a day, 150 a week, 8,000 a year; I mean, the numbers are astronomical,” said Chmiel. “When they come home, they don’t get the help they need, and I just think it’s unacceptable. I don’t think this country, by and large, is doing nearly enough.”
Along the way, Chmiel and his friends have been raising funds for the Guardian for Heroes Foundation, an organization started by Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, that helps veterans struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder become reacclimatized to civilian life.
“None of us have served,” said Chmiel. “We’re just a group of five civilians trying to show our thanks and appreciation for the sacrifices that our servicemen and women make, we’ve all decided to take four months off from our lives to come out here and do our small part.”
Chmiel began his run on September 11 aboard the USS Midway Museum in San Diego, and has since logged more than 2,000 miles across parts of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas on his way to Ground Zero in New York City. During his “ultimate road trip,” as he called it, Chmiel has crossed deserts, dodged drunk drivers and even swam across part of the Mississippi river. Lightning, high heat, rattlesnakes and close calls with armed Border Patrol guards in the dark have not deterred Chmiel from his mission.
To learn more about the Guardian for Heroes Foundation, Beastmode for the Brave, or to follow Chmiel on his journey to Manhattan, visit www.beastmodeforthebrave.com. Donations can be made on the website, and Chmiel also asks his supporters to visit the site’s link to Change.org to sign the Stop Soldier Suicide petition to create a Reverse Boot Camp to help ease the return of combat veterans to civilian life.