There are people who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggling – yet have been able to navigate their way out of the depths of their darkest moments. U.S. Army Sergeant (SGT) Sam Kanatzar, stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky is one of those people. In 2014, while deployed at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, Kanatzar says she was experiencing difficulties adjusting to life overseas.
But it was the sport of running that she credits for giving her the motivation to re-focus her inner spirit towards the light. On Christmas Day in 2014, almost on a whim and as an impromptu diversion, Sam began running with other soldiers in the camp’s “Kuwait Running Mafia”. As the saying goes she was “off to the races”. She developed a new outlook on life, a change of attitude, a choice of gratitude and a message of hope for others to hear.
On Saturday, July 28th, SGT Kanatzar will continue to spread that message of hope and resiliency when she flies out to Boston, MA to participate in the 9th annual Run to Home Base presented by New Balance at Fenway. The charity race – a 9K run/5K walk – that begins and ends inside Boston’s Fenway Park -benefits Home Base, Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Program and its mission to heal the invisible wounds for Veterans, Service Members and their Families from across America. “Running saved my life,” Kanatzar said. “I know there are many active duty service members and veterans that are having a pretty rough time these days especially with the invisible wounds and I want to bring them some hope and inspiration that there is a way out. I learned, myself, that I didn’t have to chase happiness – happiness was with me all along if I would simply choose it.”
Veterans from Kentucky and across the country can receive help in healing from the invisible wounds of war at Home Base. The Boston-clinic has a two-week Intensive Clinical Program (ICP) that provides a years’ worth of treatment in two weeks’ time. Veterans are put on a path to life-long healing and then connected to care back in their home communities. All treatment, lodging, transportation and meals are fully covered. The program is possible through a grant from the Wounded Warrior Project as part of the Warrior Care Network, a groundbreaking collaboration between Home Base, Wounded Warrior Project and three other academic medical centers aimed at healing the invisible wounds.
“One in three returning Veterans struggles with an invisible wound of war. Home Base can help, regardless of ability to pay, regardless of where you live, regardless of discharge status. If you are a Veteran and you are struggling—please, reach out to Home Base. We can help,” says retired Brigadier General Jack Hammond, Executive Director, Home Base.
SGT Kanatzar now has a life of understanding, peace and acceptance. One that she believes others who may be struggling with their own life-challenges, can find too, “I always joke that running is my church or my penance,” she said. “When I’m on the road, it’s my time to think and go through everything that is bothering me.” Kanatzar won’t be along one the Boston race course this year. She will participate in the Run with her self-acclaimed “sole sister” and sister in arms, SFC Delaney Reimann. Together, they run races across the country since their deployment in 2015. “My friendship with Delaney saved my life – literally and figuratively”, she said. “Combining my favorite activity, with my favorite people, and my favorite team, while supporting such a great cause is amazing. On July 28th I run for my comrades from Kuwait Running Mafia, the first to introduce me to the love of running. I run for Delaney who is always there for me. I run for my son, to show him anything is possible. I run for myself, for who I want to become and who I never want to be again.”
To support Kanatzar 2018 Run to Home Base fundraiser, please visit www.homebase.org/Kanatzar. All proceeds from your donation will directly benefit the clinical care and support services Veterans, Service Members and their Families receive at Home Base.