City Source Interview: VetsWhatsNext Virtual Walkathon

 

Retired Army Major Eric King is launching a fundraiser to raise awareness of the issue of veterans’ suicides. 

A 22:22 virtual walkathon is set for Saturday, February 13 at noon. 

Watch to find out the deeper meaning of all of those numbers, and learn more about the cause. Register, donate, or learn more: https://www.vetswhatsnext.org/events

Transcription of Interview:

Interviewer- 

In several stories, over the past few years, we have shared the story of retired Army Major Eric King. The city of Irving and other partners provided a mortgage-free home to him through Operation finally home, the charity that provides homes to veterans, veterans who have often struggled. Major King has always been candid about what he endured after his years of service.

Eric King-

There was a time that life almost came to an end for me just outside of combat. At one point I did feel like there was nothing else left for me.

Interviewer- 

Now through his nonprofit, he has strong attention to the needs of veterans with an upcoming special event and he joins us now, thanks so much for being here. 

Eric King-

Hey, Thomas thank you so much for having me here this morning I greatly appreciate it. 

Interviewer- 

Of course and tell us what’s going to be happening on February 13th. 

Eric King-

Absolutely, I have so excited to share with you all on February 13th at 12 O, clock CST. VETSWHATSNEXT will be having its first annual suicide prevention walk/runothon and I encourage all of you to join us virtually. You can just tap right in through our zoom link, you can run on your treadmill, you can get outside and walk or run. Whatever you want to do to be able to join us. It’s going to be very very great and we’re doing it for a very very great cause. 

Interviewer- 

And of course, there is the meaning behind all of the numbers in this event. First, there is a reason it is on the 13th. Tell us about that.

Eric King-

Well on February 13th, 2005. Took me a long time to be able to share this, but I had to be able to share this and speak because it’s bigger than just me. But again, February 13th, 2005 is when I had experienced an IED blase attack in Iraq doing a mission, And that attack lead me to have post-traumatic stress disorder, a traumatic brain injury with residuals of seizures disorder and also lead me to a point where I wanted to take my own life. As I tried to take my life, but because of my son Eric, who saved my life, that’s allowed me to be here today. I also experienced a very best friend of mine Captin Howell Wade who suffered from PTSD, I had the please of serving alongside him in combat, but PTSD lead him to take his life and this run that where having is to honor him and so many other veterans who have taken their lives due to PTSD and other mental illnesses. 

Interviewer- 

And an important cause that is portrayed through this other number we see it on your sweatshirt number 22.

Eric King-

So it’s reported that 22 veterans are taking their lives each and every day and the pandemic is doesn’t make it any better. And what we want to do with VETSWHATSNEXT we want to bring that number down from 22 to preferably to the number 0 because every veteran life is valued and every veteran life is loved and we have to show them that they are loved and valued. That is why we are running for 22 minutes and 22 seconds, to bring awareness to this beast I call suicide that taking our veteran’s lives each and every day. So we’re just asking 22 minutes and 22 seconds of your time to come out and join us for this great cause. 

Interviewer- 

Along with that time of running your also looking for sponsors for that walk and runathon. What is the biggest unmet need you see among veterans you can help with? 

Eric King-

With us being able to join and partner with sponsors that can bring about funding would help our veterans that are homeless, it would help our veterans that are in treatment facilities receiving the great treatment that they need so that they can live a good life. So I ask all of you to join VETSWHATSNEXT partner with us, become a sponsor, become an ambassador, there is a big mission during this journey we can save lives and I am dependent on you to help us. 

Interviewer- 

I’m guessing a lot of people who serve want to maintain that persona of strength. I mean it’s what you trained for, so how do you balance that when it’s time for a veteran to ask for help? 

Eric King-

Thomas, it’s very hard to balance it. Every day is a transition out of the military, you don’t just transition out of the military than 30-60 days later you can live a normal life. It doesn’t work that easy. I have been out of the military now since 2016 and I am still right now transitioning. So we are looked at as being strong to be able to provide and do the things that we soldiers are built and trained to do, be we all at times fall weak not because we are weak as a person because we are suffering from PTSD were suffering from other ailments that cause us to, I will say for me going to a dark space. So it is hard to balance that but we just have to lean on those that want to help us, and I’m also leaning on you all to help us. 

Interviewer- 

And I want to ask you of course we got so much response to our stories with you. You got that mortgage-free home thought operation finally home and the city of Irving. So tell me how is it in your new home and living in the city of Irving. 

Eric King-

Well, the home is great, my family now our enjoying it every day. We still even pinch ourselves as we’re going into 2 years being in our home. So it’s great, it’s great to be a citizen of Irving and it is because of operation finally home, Dallas building association, Winston custom homes, the city of Irving, and all those who partner with operation falling home to put me and my family into a mortgage-free home that has allowed me to want to give back and has also prompted me to even start my nonprofit organization VETSWHATSNEXT because I do know veterans who go through some very bad and difficult times wants we received that help it kinda pushes us to give back and continue to help those veterans who are struggling like myself. 

Interviewer- 

Major Eric King, Thanks so much for being here. 

Eric King-

Hey, thank you Thomas for having me I appreciate it.

Interviewer- 

Of course, this virtual walk and runathon are Saturday, February 13th at noon. A preshow starts at 11:30. To donate or learn more visit VETSWHATSNEXT.ORG