The Wounded Warriors Who Are Helping Others

Back-to-back marathons by these heroes show others the importance of better awareness of mental health issues among vets

by Angelina Newsom | Updated 19 Apr 2017 at 1:46 PM

Ivan Castro, a U.S. veteran, and Karl Hinett, a U.K. veteran, have vowed to run back-to-back marathons together in an effort to raise money and awareness for combat veterans dealing with mental health issues such as PTSD.

Both men were severely wounded in Iraq. Castro was injured in 2006 on a rooftop when he lost members of his team — and his eyesight — to a mortar round that almost took his life as well. Hinett was badly burned after a firebomb hit his tank. He would go on to endure 50 surgeries for the injuries he sustained in that attack.

These men embody the ethos that no one gets left behind.

There is a famous photograph featuring Karl Hinett engulfed in flames as he bails out of his burning tank. I think I stared at that picture for a solid 10 minutes as I contemplated these two warriors and the amount of courage they’ve shown throughout their respective recoveries. Even after facing unimaginable obstacles, these two men haven’t lost sight of their brothers and sisters in arms.

Recognizing the stigma still attached to mental health, the men have grown passionate about breaking barriers by raising awareness. They’d also like to remind their fellow veterans that it’s OK to ask for help where mental health is concerned. Many service members and veterans suffer quietly, sometimes for years, because they are afraid to speak up. Many share the fear of being viewed as weak or accused of exaggerating or even faking symptoms.

Seeing these courageous men fight in a different way for their buddies is heartwarming.

Related: How Veterans Can Fight Their Way Through PTSD

It should be noted that despite his injuries and his blindness, Castro continued his military service until he retired after 28 years. Castro and Hinett have begun with the Boston Marathon and will continue onto the London Marathon days later. The men are partnered with the Heads Together foundation, which is a charity for veterans that focuses on mental health, founded by Britain’s Prince Harry, Prince William, and Catherine, the duchess of Cambridge.

It’s truly incredible what a warrior’s spirit can endure. These men are very talented athletes with important messages that sometimes get lost in the everyday politics and scandals of the world. This is one story that I would love to see shared across every social media platform and news outlet.

These men embody the ethos that no one gets left behind. After all that these men have been through, it takes a serious amount of dedication and strength to add back-to-back marathons to their impressive resumes.

Let me break it down a little more. That's 26 miles these men will run in Boston, followed by 26 miles they will run in London. The humanity that is on display in these brave combat veterans has the potential to touch so many lives.

Related: Veterans Who Need Care Have Important Rights

No doubt these brave men will continue their mission knowing that their fellow veterans are 100 percent behind them.

Angelina Newsom is a U.S. Army veteran and an OpsLens contributor. She served 10 years in the military, including a deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. She studies criminal justice and is still active within the military community. This OpsLens article is used by permission.

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