Major Craig Meling, who lives in Fields Corner, says he understands the fits of rage. The sleepless nights. The feeling that nobody understands.
He suffered through his own personal horrors after returning from a year-long deployment in Iraq and says he understands the desperation. But, thanks to treatment and the support of loved ones, he has since made it out the other side.
Meling, 38, says he is one of the lucky ones.
“I support the Home Base Program in their mission to heal PTSD and other invisible wounds of war. I believe in treatment and I’m an advocate for getting help. I know what living is supposed to feel like, and I want that for all Veterans. That’s part of why I signed up for the Run to Home Base,” he explains.
That’s part of the reason, but it’s not the only reason. His other motivator is his friend, SPC Tommy Kidman, a combat medic who served in Afghanistan.
“Tommy was smart, he was funny, and he loved his family. He had two little girls and loved them more than anything in the world. He also was the type of guy who always put the mission and the needs of the Soldiers first before himself. He was a great person.”
Meling says his friend seemed haunted by some of the things he experienced while serving in the war. He did receive help and had the support of his loved ones-- but for Tommy, it did not seem to be enough. On July 15th, 2013, SPC Tommy Kidman took his own life.
“I am running to honor and memorialize Tommy. I don’t want to say goodbye to any more of my friends. I want to raise awareness and let people know that it’s okay if you are having issues. You’re not crazy, there is help. Treatment is out there and it’s okay to get it.”
“My son and his brothers and sisters in arms gave so much. They stepped up when duty called. Now they need us— and it’s time they get the support they need,” says Kidman’s mother, Jana Olson.
“Programs like this provide resources to help not just servicemembers, but their families, too. And if other familes can be spared what we went through, if their sons and daughters can survive and function again, then I support it.”
Meling gave himself a fundraising goal of $750. He has so far raised over $2,000 and wants to keep going strong.
“I want to raise as much money as possible so I can feel like I did right by Tommy.”
Kidman’s family is flying in from Utah to watch Meling cross home plate. The run— on July 19th— is just days after the one year anniversary of his passing.
“I’m grateful to Craig for running in memory of my son. We are honored to be part of this, and I really appreciate this whole program,” says Olson.
If you would like to donate to Meling or any of the other men and women participating in the 2014 Run to Home Base presented by New Balance, visit RuntoHomeBase.org. All proceeds go towards helping the Home Base Program heal the invisible wounds of war.