Marine veteran Micah Herndon knows what it means to give something his all. At the Boston marathon earlier this month, Herndon ran to honor three of his fallen comrades, Mark Juarez, Matthew Ballard, and Rupert Hamer, whose names were written on his shoelaces. When his legs could simply take him no further, he crawled his way to the finish line, pushing through excruciating pain in order to accomplish his goal. Now he is opening up about it to Today’s Savannah Guthrie about how running saved his life from crushing PTSD.
Herndon is a true American hero, who served four years of active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. While on duty, Juarez, Hamer, and Ballard were riding in a vehicle that was targeted by an explosive device constructed by the enemy. Juarez and Hamer were killed in an instant, while Ballard died later in the hospital. Remarkably, Herndon survived the incident. He arrived home in 2011, struggling from both survivor’s guilt and post-traumatic stress disorder.
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As a way to cope, Herndon turned to running. It was his passion for running that brought him to the Boston marathon, the first marathon he completed. His thoughts were focused on his friends, whose names he repeated out loud over and over again while he ran. He was also motivated by his hope of raising awareness about PTSD and encouraging others to let go of any shame they may have for their own invisible battle scars. While they may not be visible to the eye, they are just as real.
Many U.S. service men and women return home from active duty only to find that they are a very different person than they were before they left. Rather than opening up about the mental struggles they’re experience, they endure them in silence. Herndon knows firsthand that there is nothing to be embarrassed of.
“People, they hide a lot of stuff and they say, ‘I’m good, I’m good.’ That doesn’t make you any weaker admitting (it). I’m actually proud of my PTSD. Because that’s who I am, and that’s what fuels me in my workouts, is looking back at that. I just hope that what everyone gets out of this whole message is to bring awareness to PTSD and all the other issues that come from war, and not to be ashamed of it if you’re a veteran. I know I’m not. Those are my battle scars, and I’m not afraid of that.”