Motivation Monday – Meet Ed Khuns

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In 1979, I enlisted  for a total of six years (active and reserve) in the U.S. Army, following in the footsteps of my father who served in the Army during the Korean War. I was stationed at Fort McClellan for basic training and Military Police school. After my training, I was stationed at Fort Devens, MA assigned to the U.S. Army Military Intelligence school.

At the end of my active duty, I went home and sought out work in the field of law enforcement. I took  the civil service tests and state tests and did well on both; however, federal employment mandates regarding gender and race left me on the low end of eligibility. I went to a local veterans hospital to interview for a police officer position in that organization, and was told that I interviewed well, and would be good for the job with the exception that I wasn’t a real veteran. I made a promise to myself that I would work with, and help returning veterans, so that they would not have to hear any of that BS when they came home – at least not on my watch.

I bounced back from that experience by securing a job in my hometown. I have been there for more than thirty years. Over the next several years I married and raised a family, and although I have always been active, I wasn’t  physically active and not really doing any physical training.  I was smoking, I was overweight, and not taking care of myself. I did quit smoking shortly after my daughter was born over 20 years ago and started feeling better; however, I still wasn’t taking care of myself, and was subsequently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

I remember the first Gulf War during the 1990s, and the fact that I was too old, and in no condition to re-enlist. I continued to live the lifestyle I had been accustomed to and still wasn’t taking care of myself. In the early 2000s,  I made a decision to get active and started a PT program that included walking, bike riding, and some running. As I continued my PT, I started to feel good about myself again, and realized that I could still do it, which inspired me to dedicate my runs to all those serving in Iraq. I waited to run during the hottest part of the day to honor their sacrifices for all of us back home.

Fast forward to 2013 when I was at West Point for the Shamrock 5k; this race was the first time I came in contact with Team RWB.  As I ran, I witnessed athletes with red shirts running with the American Flag held high. Words cannot describe the feelings I had for this display of patriotism. Shortly after the race I sought out the flag bearer, and the red shirts to find out more.  Lou Nemec told me all about Team RWB and its mission to support our veterans. Team RWB supports our veterans as they transition from service by creating communities of veterans, their families, and supporters through physical and social activities. I remember when I left the Army and went back home that I found it somewhat difficult to go back to what I was prior to my time in the Army, and at that time there was not much, if any, assistance in “going home.”

I joined up with Team RWB shortly after the Shamrock 5k and as a veteran I received a Team RWB shirt for joining.  As I think about it, it was probably the only thank you I received for my service.  I followed new events and news on the website and received e-mail notifications about Team RWB events at West Point.   I started attending, and I was welcomed to the team by Lou Nemec,  Mike Erwin,  John Willis,  John Faunce,  Ben Hartig and many others. It was amazing to participate in these athletic events at such a venue as The U.S. Military Academy, and truly a privilege for me to be a part of this group.

As  member of  Team RWB, I was allowed to participate in Carry The Load for my first time, which is something that I am looking forward to next year. Another first for me this year, and most likley the most moving event for me, was being part of the team that ran with the torch for the Special Olympics at West Point – what an honor!  It brought a tear to my eyes when we ran with that torch onto the field.

My hometown of Peekskill has an annual 5k sponsored by the Peekskill American Legion Post; this year two Team RWB members joined me in that run and it is still one of my proudest moments running with those two fine gentlemen wearing the Eagle and each of us placing in our age groups. More recently at the Firecracker 5k on July 4th  I met Jon Silk and spoke with him about his service, and when I heard his story I was deeply moved, which even further strengthened my commitment to this organization.