Veterans with PTSD wage a daily battle that quietly consumes their thoughts and dreams.
The Boston Red Sox and Red Sox Foundation are doing what they can to bring these invisible wounds to light. On Sunday at Fenway Park, they held the first Run to Home Base 9K, and it was an opportunity that was relished by many. More important, though, was the cause for which they were running.
"Half the battle is getting our troopers to acknowledge that they have a problem," said Army Chief of Staff General George Casey, who was on hand to support the run. "We must reduce the stigma … if they [soldiers] are ultimately going to recover."
According to the Office of Veteran Affairs, VA hospitals have treated over 60,000 cases of PTSD out of an estimated 300,000 soldiers who may be suffering from the condition. PTSD can produce serious symptoms such as major depression, anger issues, insomnia, and thoughts of suicide, but soldiers have a tough time seeking treatment because they never were actually physically injured.
The Red Sox, seeking to help end that stigma and bring treatment to countless more soldiers, created the Home Base program in partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital. The Run to Home Base 9K was the first of what they hope will be an annual event to both raise money and awareness for PTSD treatment.
Many runners, including several military teams, ran together for their comrades in a show of support and solidarity on the issue.
"The Army is a family," Casey said. "These units out there are cohesive teams that rely on each other, and what you're seeing out there is an example of that cohesion."
It was exemplified in stories like that of Dave Cote, an active-duty Marine who ran for his fellow soldiers and father.
"My dad has kidney disease, and I am going to donate one of my kidneys to him," he said after finishing the run.
For Cote, his act and the run is the least he can do.
"It's an outstanding cause," he added. "I think we can always do more, we're doing a lot of great stuff, but we can always do more for veterans, and it's a great cause."
Others ran in memory of those already lost to the battle and the hope to help others in the future.
A team of nine runners from Yarmoth, Mass., ran in memory of Nicholas A. Xiarhos, a Marine who died in Iraq last July.
"As soon as I heard about it, I signed up immediately," said Scott Veara, who wore a matching shirt featuring the fallen Marine. "I signed up and got my first donation that same night. It's for a great cause."
Whether soldier or civilian, alive or fallen, the Run to Home Base event got across its one big message: All adversity can be overcome and that there is always a team to support you.