Marine veteran hits the road again to raise money for servicemembers
By SARAH SCULL | Creston News Advertiser, Iowa | Published: July 24, 2019
(Tribune News Service) — Brian Geerts, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, is on the run — 147.70 miles — to raise awareness and funds for his fellow servicemembers.
Geerts, who lives in Davenport with his wife Lana, served in the Marines from 1983 to 1987. While his time spent in the military was during “peace time,” Geerts is aware his experience is much different from many others who have served.
As he ran in the heat along Highway 92 on Tuesday afternoon, Geerts said that his efforts are personal, as he has had friends and acquaintances take their own lives — some as a result of living with PTSD from their combat experience.
“I’ve known four people personally,” he said.
To be seen and raise more awareness, Geerts is carrying the American Flag while on foot from Oakland in Pottawattamie County, where he started Monday, and eventually finish in Grandview in Louisa County, where he is expected to arrive at 8:18 p.m. Friday.
During this run, Geerts will travel through Pottawattamie, Cass, Adair, Madison, Warren, Marion, Mahaska, Keokuk, Washington and Louisa counties. Since 2017, Geerts has completed three other runs of similar distance in Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois, where he donated funds raised to local organizations, such as Operation Engage America. This run will be no different.
“I’m not a nonprofit, so I like to find local organizations to partner with,” Geerts said.
This year, Geerts is donating any funds raised to the Puppy Jake Foundation, a Des Moines based non-profit which provides well bred, socialized and professionally trained service dogs to military veterans.
In 2018, Geerts told the Atlantic News Telegraph the problem of military suicides is not new — he had a friend whose father committed suicide in 1960 after serving in the Korean War. However, he believes since the early 2000s, the idea is more openly talked about and the Veterans Association (VA) is doing better helping veterans in need, but feels its difficult getting individuals to realize they can ask for help.
Geerts has big plans to one day make it to Camp Pendleton on the coast of southern California. In the meantime, he will break up his efforts into shorter runs, each of which will span a number of counties.
“I have a life and a wife I like,” he chuckles, as he refers to Lana, who supports her husband’s efforts by bringing supplies to him while on the road, such as water, so he stays hydrated.