By Elizabeth Sekkes
Bridgewater State University student veteran Paul Ellis is gearing up for another mission.
On July 19, Ellis will run in the fifth annual Run to Home Base event, which offers aid to returning Afghanistan and Iraq veterans and their families, as they cope with trauma related obstacles, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Ellis is a United States army veteran, who spent time serving in Iraq for 14 months.
“I had great difficulty transitioning back to a civilian lifestyle once my time in the service was up, and thanks to the VA hospital and the Home Base Program, I did not become one of the statistics,” Ellis said.
Ellis said it is important for him to take part in the event to help his fellow comrades lead a healthy and successful life after serving in the army.
“One in four veterans returning home suffers from some type of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Traumatic Brain Injury,” Ellis said. “And the resources to help these men and women just are not there. By participating in an event like this, it helps raise both money and awareness for these men and women.”
Ellis will run in this year’s event in honor of his fallen army comrade, Sergeant Eric Krajewski, whom he worked with in active duty.
This year’s Run to Home Base event will end in Boston’s Fenway Park, which Ellis explains also brings a special meaning to this event.
“Eric was a fan of the Evil Empire and I grew up a Sox fan,” said Ellis on the Run to Home Base website. “While Eric and I were stationed together, we loved when the Sox and Yankees played each other. Eric was the only person allowed to wear Yankees gear in my home and the loser always got harassed about how bad his team was.”
Ellis said he chooses to run in the event due to a number of personal convictions.
“I participate in this event each year for three key reasons,” said Ellis on the website. “The first is to raise money for our nation’s wounded warriors so that they may receive the help they desperately need and deserve. The second reason is to spread awareness of the ‘invisible’ injuries our military members deal with each and every day. The third reason I run in this event each year is because I know it would drive Eric crazy to be associated in any way with the Boston Red Sox.”
The Run to Home base event is presented by New Balance, and it raises money for the Red Sox Foundation and the Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base program, which seeks to improve the lives of veterans’ traumatic brain injuries related to active duty.
Ellis said it is important for Bridgewater State students and the University as a whole to become familiar with the Run to Home Base Event because many veterans and their families are in need of support, particularly those who are members of the Bridgewater State community.
“I think it is important for BSU students to be aware of this event because there is a large veteran population at BSU, many of whom suffer firsthand from PTSD and TBIs,” Ellis said. “By making the student body aware of this event, and ones like it, funds and awareness can be raised for those who are in need of these services, many of whom might have otherwise gone untreated due to stigma or lack of funding.”
Elizabeth Sekkes is The Comment’s News Editor. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.