The phone often rings at Brendan Murphy’s Dorchester home. On the other end is a parent looking for some sort of advice, feedback or assistance as they see a child return from Iraq with a stress-related disorders.
For two specific reasons, Murphy is the perfect candidate to offer comfort. One, he was a combat medic who served, and often treated, that loved one. Two, he is going through many of the same issues.
That is what makes Murphy’s participation in the Run to Home Base 9K on May 23 even more important for the 27-year-old.
“I’ve seen them firsthand. I’ve seen what they go through afterwards,” Murphy said of his fellow veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injuries (TBI), many of which he was on hand to mend. “I wanted to get involved.”
Since returning from his second one-year tour in Iraq in June 2008, Murphy has seen the effects of war in his everyday life. He is easily angered (“Certain things that shouldn’t piss you off, piss you off,” he said), and sleeping is an iffy proposition, at best.
On some nights the dreams and headaches reduce him to one hour of sleep. If he does get up to six hours of sleep, it’s never restful.
But such issues pale in comparison to others he has known. Two of Murphy’s friends committed suicide within weeks of returning from Iraq. He worries constantly that others will go down that same path.
“Who knows who kills themselves later on,” he said. “There could still be someone that’s dealing with something now that goes off and does something a week from now. It’s a pretty serious thing.”
For these reasons, Murphy appreciates the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital’s Home Base Program for what it does for families of veterans, many of whom are often left to search for warning signs which are hard to find. Through the program, relatives of those struggling with PTSD can seek assistance at Massachusetts General Hospital and get involved with the veteran’s road to recovery.
Every penny Murphy raises for the cause (he was well over $2,000 heading into the weekend) will support this program. That will make his smile extra wide on the 23rd.
“With the Home Base Program, families can get involved, families can get help,” Murphy added. “A family can go to Mass General Hospital and get help for their brother, sister, whoever is suffering, and actually bring them there and be involved in it. With the VA hospital it’s up to the soldier to do it.”
Murphy is running as part of team “No Man Left Behind.” It’s a motto he practices every day, sometimes still tending to those he treated overseas. Even if it’s only over the phone.