November 2017

11/3

We have been very active with Santa Rosa area support, a big delivery with VFW Post 10789, water deliveries to fire dept personnel, and this week 150 cases or so to the US Coast Guard in Petaluma. One of our sponsors sent $500 to help the families of Santa Rosa High School- if you remember 75 kids from that school lost their homes. Well, we sent Safeway Gift Cards via priority mail and here’s some of the message I rec’d from Lynnette, “I can’t tell you how much it means to our community!…as of the last bell today we had multiple parents in tears! Thank You!”

Lynnette lost her son Ray to PTSD related suicide and that’s how I know her. She is one of the families we know through 22TooMany. She is my only contact in Santa Rosa and we have made an impact in that community thanks to her. Blessings multiply when God is involved! I rec’d my 22TooMany “business cards” in the mail today; Ed McClelland, Chaplain, Family Outreach- now this is real mission work, meeting families and just listening to their stories.

November and December will be busy months for us with the care packs. If you know of any deployed US troops and have good addresses, please let me know! We also send a “stateside” care pack to any veteran. The encouragement of a care pack is worth the effort…

God Bless America!!

Best, Ed

October 2017

10/30

A few weeks ago and right after we finished the dock for a US AirForce veteran in Oregon, I had the bright idea of collecting cases of water for the firefighters battling the nor Cal fires and it only took us a week to deliver a load with the help of VFW Post #10789. But right after that we found out t that there was an abundant supply of water up there, pallets and pallets and even truckloads!!

We had to get strategic with our delivery on this and the next load up went to Santa Rosa Alliance Church where Samaritan’s Purse is headquartered right now and then last night I took another load to the Santa Rosa Fairgrounds to a fundraising event for the fire victims- now this water I had to purchase because our remaining water is staged at a location in Martinez pending my delivery options…

I’ve been on the road so much lately I didn’t even know we had an active duty Coast Guardsman attending my home church and when I finally met him I asked if he had any contacts in the Santa Rosa area. I just got word today that I can take the remainder of the water to the Coast Guard Training Center in Petaluma!

We were also able to deliver some of the water to the Rio Vista Fire Dept. and a note from last night; I watched 3 women joyfully hand out 1500 bottles of water to church members and some folks that lost their homes in the fires!!

So, the water wasn’t really in line with our normal mission, but firefighters and first responders are important too and many are veterans and making the Coast Guard connection is a bonus…

Always on duty and still encouraged, Ed

10/26

A Facebook post said that a VFW in San Andreas was in dire need of some siding repair, so I checked with my handyman friend and went to take a look and found 3 guys working on a wall section that I could do myself, but just 15 minutes earlier I ran into a Marine in Valley Springs that gave me some good encouragement for the day!!

A trip down Hwy 12 through Lockeford and Lodi, then into Rio Vista- I briefly looked at trucks there and wow- trucks are expensive, but the productive part of this mission was finding a group of firefighters at the local station and delivering about 20 cases of water!! They were very happy and I gave them a case of the Tillamook Beef Jerky too!!

We are looking for a new(er) tow vehicle for the Operation Creekside trailer. The old F-150 just passed 280,000 and I can’t really do the hills anymore and the mission is expanding- a 4x4, 4 door, short bed truck is what we need- 4x4 because we go everywhere, 4 door to haul our Task Force Hope vets and or care packs and supplies and short bed because of all the around town stuff we do….

I only shipped out 1 care pack today, but you know, one or a hundred, they all have the ability to encourage our troops.

Best, Ed

Still Encouraged!

10/25

I made a quick run up to Santa Rosa today and found the Billy Graham Disaster Response Chaplains at a church there and was able to deliver about 20 cases of water. The Samaritan’s Purse Team is in route to help the fire victims as we speak and the church will inform me when they need more water!

The Billy Graham Chaplains are good folks- we prayed in the parking lot for the people that would be coming for help and I specifically prayed for strength for these chaplains.

Just wanted to share that our fire relief mission is good and new contacts are always great for mission work!!

Best, Ed

Still Encouraged!

10/23

When things don’t go exactly the way you planned,. it’s called “swerving” like the time the boat pulled up at a warrior getaway in Maryland with a full bar, a bartender, and drink specials…..and well I can tell you for sure that PTSD, mission work, and alcohol do not mix!!!

Today I am talking about our generous supporters and nor Cal in general, and myself thinking water is the ticket- the best, non perishable item to gather for the fire victims, firefighters, you know…..and we did deliver about 100 cases to Santa Rosa High School, but here’s the deal; they have pallets of water up there and truckloads and everybody has water…..

We have 6 pallets of water and we will distribute it, but we will be strategic. The initial trip up was good- we got some vets out of the house, we encouraged the staff at Santa Rosa High School and we realized a great need…..75 of those kids at this one school lost their homes. The principal’s face told the story; he was like, “what are we going to do?”

This catastrophe will be old news in a week or so, that is, if you are not directly affected, but for these kids, this next couple of years will be interesting, quite possibly very difficult and even heartbreaking….

So, one of our sponsors sent me $500 to buy gift cards for this particular group of people- the kids at Santa Rosa High. I went to Safeway today and purchased 25 $20 Gift Cards. I’m doing my Liberty High math again and I cannot compute 25 into 75 very well, but I think 50 more $20 gift cards would equal one gift card to each family- if you can help, please let me know…..

Also Safeway is matching donations as we speak for the fire victims up to $500,000. Help in any way you can, it’s what we’re supposed to do.

Operation Creekside will ship out 37 care packs in the morn, thanks to PG&E in Fresno. That makes about 85 care packs out in the last 2 weeks or so. We are still on mission, I spent 2 hours at camp this morn in MiWuk Village helping US Navy veteran Andy Mandeson gettign ready for winter.

Again, if you could help us with the gift cards, please let me know. 925 260 5423

Thanks, Ed

Still Encouraged

10/18

Yesterday we made a trip to Santa Rosa and Operation Creekside and VFW Post #10789 hauled 4 truckloads of goods including a loaded Operation Creekside trailer to Santa Rosa High School. The goods came from donations collected by the Brentwood Lions Club, customers of Big B Lumber and others.

I think hope comes best when delivered in person and the benefits get multiplied as in overflowing blessings! Let me try to break this down; The Red Cross and other big groups only want money and I do understand the simplicity of this, but when you have folks that want to help in other ways, what do you do?? I called various numbers and got the same message pretty much, we only want cash donations.

We have a contact in Santa Rosa through our mission of visiting the families of the 22 veterans that take their own lives daily, so I reached out to a mom that lost her son to suicide. Her family has been evacuated from home 3 times now and are still staying somewhere else, but she happens to work at Santa Rosa High School and informed me that they would take whatever we bring!

So, yesterday morn, a small convoy made the run to Santa Rosa High School, myself and 5 veterans, one of them the VFW Post Commander and also VP of the Brentwood Lions Club, and a couple of these vets I know needed to get out of the house, the best part being how well these veterans were received and it really was truckloads of hope!

My son and I had met this mom in July and she shared the struggles including how she had just recently returned to work after losing her son. And meeting about 30 families in the last 13 months, I do remember that it was a difficult meeting, meaning the struggles were obvious, but yesterday I saw a different person. Even through the evacuations and what’s going on all around her, she seemed in, well, better spirits.

She had just returned on Sunday night from a TAPS event in Arizona. TAPS is Tragedy Assist Program for military families. She could see Santa Rosa on fire from the plane and then evacuated that night.

We unloaded the goods with the principal and several school employees helping and we were told that about 75 students from that school alone had lost their homes! After hearing that, Steve Todd went out to his truck and came back with a stack of gift cards and told the principal to give them to the families…..

Now some of you know how I joke about my Liberty High School education, but even I can do the math, and these families need more gift cards. We need to help and any way we can. This catastrophe, believe it or not, will be old news in a few weeks- not for the people affected of course, but I hope you know what I mean.

We are going to collect gift cards and deliver them, in person, to the principal. You know, if everyone did something, it would really make a difference…

We do also support first responders and the rest of our mission still moves forward- a bunch of care packs went out yesterday, thanks to Steve Todd and Dennis before we went to Santa Rosa.

If you’d like to help us help Santa Rosa High School please let me know.

Best, Ed

Still encouraged!!

10/16

Last week we installed the dock for a US Air Force Vet in Keno Oregon and came back to smoke filled nor Calif and immediately went on fire relief mode and were able to get about 6 pallets of water donated and ready to deliver!! Over the weekend I was in Sonora with Vets Helping Vets working their annual end of the summer party. It is encouraging when non profits work together!!

We worked with Steve Todd today getting the Brentwood Lions Club donations ready to deliver to Santa Rosa tomorrow; 85 cases of water, misc food and new clothes- the Operation Creekside trailer is full and we have 3 trucks also going..

Some info on how this works besides working with Steve and the local VFW Post. Our Santa Rosa connection is a mom who lost her son to PTSD related suicide. She and her husband are still not back in their home, but she is meeting us tomorrow to help distribute the goods!

We also have a US Army Purple Heart recipient whose home in Coffey Park was lost. I spoke with him today and his voice told the story- he lost everything.

And non profits working together- since the trailer is loaded, first thing in the morning Steve Todd of VFW Post 10789 will haul a load of care packs to the Discovery Bay Post Office, the we will load the other trucks and head to Santa Rosa.

On Thurs we are doing a care pack event with PG&E in Fresno- probably another 50 care packs to ship!!

Still Encouraged and Busy!!

Best, Ed

10/14

We installed a beautiful dock for a US Air Force veteran in Keno Oregon earlier this week and on day #2 we were lost in the lumber yard trying to find the wood we needed and wasting valuable time- then we helped the yard foreman find it and he helped us get it loaded and then I told him that we were from California! Oregon doesn’t typically like us Californians, but his response was, “we’re all the same.” And I could tell the intent was like, we are all in this together!!

As northern Calif burns and it’s really ugly here, stories keep coming out about strangers helping each other through these catastrophic events and two days in the Big B parking lot in Brentwood collecting cases and cases of water for the firefighters proved to be valuable in goods and mission opportunities.

An old friend came by to buy a light switch and also purchased 10 cases of water. A man came by to shake my hand and then he went right into prayer for the people affected by these fires and for the safety of the firefighters. I was impressed with the workers that were bringing us water or buying it in the store and walking it out to our trailer and also the people driving up to drop off.

Last night as I was hooking up to the trailer two Mexican guys came over to help and if you know me. the trailer part is easy, but help leads to conversation , and the one guy echoed the yard foreman from Oregon, “we’re all the same”, like we are all in this together!

This morn I heard that the wind had shifted and there were more immediate evacuations so I decided not to make the initial run up there as I don’t want to get in the way of fire personnel or evacuees. We have 4 or 5 pallets of water coming in on Monday to Big B and we will stage it at CD&Power in Martinez, then distribute as needed….

I am up in Sonora now helping Russ and crew at Sonora Vets Helping Vets getting ready for their annual end of summer party. These guys run a thrift store and a veterans outreach center and we work together on all kinds of veteran support. Last year Russ’s guys led us to a 79 year old Marine that was out of firewood and we partnered with them to purchase and deliver a cord of wood.

There is plenty to do and our veterans are worthy!!

Best, Ed

Vets Helping Vets- see Facebook for info- hot rods and music here in Sonora tomorrow starting at Noon.

10/12

There are 8000 firefighters in northern Calif battling catastrophic fires! Many many relief efforts are in place and ongoing- if you can help, then help

We are going to focus on cases of water and deliver to the firefighting base camp and possibly two church contacts we have- get help/supplies where needed as soon as possible and continue the support as needed.

We are set up at Big B Lumber in Brentwood Ca during business hours. Cases of water can be dropped off there for fire relief or my church at 657 McClarren Rd also in Brentwood.

Cases of water can be purchased over the phone at Big B- 925 260 5423

If you’re out of state and or have a business that could help in a big way, like shipping Beef Jerky or large quantities of food items for the firefighters, you can ship to Big B at 6600 Brentwood Bl. Brentwood, Ca 94513

Other ways to help: stop by Bib B tomorrow and give me a break to go buy more water or pick up donations

Track Facebook- the local VFW is also collecting goods- help where you can

A pallet of water at Winco costs $308- if you could help in that way, please let me know

*Bringing cases of water to Big B would really help- I’d like to see that truck go out with 10 pallets.

We will also deliver with the Operation Creekside trailer.

Again, help wherever you can and pray- the firefighters will be on these fires for a while and 3500 homes have already burned- think of those families.

If you don’t have a “bug out” bag, put one together immediately- you never know!!

God Bless America

Best, Ed

10/9

My son and I helped one of my Marines move on Saturday, Sunday I picked up dock material for a veteran who lives on the Klamath River in Oregon and here we are, my friend Marty who is his son and myself, building a dock in Oregon….docks is what I did for almost 30 years and we were able to frame it this afternoon- going right to work when we arrived.

And being up here in Oregon just might give me a chance to meet some folks, Marie Hammer is here- the mom who we made a memorial bench for her son Brady and there’s the Korea War veteran Lloyd I met on the last day of the September mission. Going into town in the morn to pick up the cedar decking with the Operation Creekside trailer and it looked good rolling up I-5 today and then Hwy 97 into Oregon. This trailer has been invaluable for mission work.

The Operation Creekside team will be care packing at Dino’s Deli tomorrow night and we will be shipping care packs by Friday. Last week we shipped out quite a few “stateside” care packs and I rec’d a message from Viet Nam Veteran Rocky Graves today, “received a box in the mail from you. Thank you so much for the birdhouse, the t shirt and goodies. You are a pleasure to have as a friend and enjoyed your visit with us. God id good as you can attest and works in our lives when we open our heart to Him.”

I spent most of the day a few weeks back with Rocky. He was sharing with me about his son who he lost to PTSD and about his time in Viet Nam. I noticed some nice birdhouses at his house and I thought, have I got something for this man!! My mom had a bunch of these and some I will not part with, but think about the healing power of such a simple thing and this is why I go meet people where they are.

Still encouraged, Ed

Operation Creekside

10/1

Y’all know I myself am a believer and you know I’ve been on mission to one veteran in the mountains, US Navy vet Andy Mandeson and more recently on mission across the US meeting families of the 22 veterans that take their lives daily, meeting veterans on the road and in care homes, working an event in Maryland with Joni and Friends- in other words, busy, busy.

Now US Marine Andrew Jackson is in the care home where my mom was and this busyness of mine, all mission work, has kept me away for some time. I get word Sat that he’s back in Sutter Delta Hosp across the street and made a point to visit today. He’s been in this particular hospital quite often and the care is good. Not too long ago I was at his bedside when the doctor said, “there’s nothing more I can do for you.” My Marine cried on that occasion and we prayed. He did well enough to go back to the care home again…..

This afternoon I found him sleeping and the RN asked me who I was.I said I am his brother- kind of a joke because he is black and I am white, but I am his brother. He said, “does he listen to you?” I said, “yes.” He said, ” see if you can get him to agree to a blood draw, we need to do it and he refused this morning.” I woke up Andrew. He has always told me to wake him and he had a big smile when he saw me. I asked him if he was cooperating and basically got him to agree to the blood draw.

A young lab tech came in and Andrew was all smiles. She was nervous I think but he was very gracious and the first attempt did not go so well. She decided to try taking blood from his hand and I just bowed my head and prayed, “Lord help, Lord help get this accomplished, Lord help this hospital staff do the very best for Andrew.” She was successful in getting the vials and Andrew was praising the Lord and in good spirits. He talked about faith and the lab tech said she was unsure, that she believed in God but had difficulty with the church and such.

I watched him minister. I watched him tell her about his faith. And I’ve seen his faith, he’s ministered to me from the hospital bed on many occasions. I told him about a Marine that died way too young because of PTSD. He was very upset. US Marine Andrew Jackson still has a lot to offer. He wouldn’t let me take a picture but he agreed to prayer. I knelt down by the bed and reached for his hand. I got both hands and I asked if he wanted to pray. He said, “you go ahead.” And I prayed, a simple prayer, and when I was done he said, “Amen’, and I pulled one hand away. He didn’t let go and I couldn’t help see the white hand being held by two black hands. I thought this would be a picture, but again, no pictures….

What a welcome home for me. Just the fact he is still alive and then the bonus- I get to to the power this man has in Christ. When Andrew Jackson says, “Lord have mercy, or I’m in the loving arms of Jesus”, well, there’s not a sweeter sound…..

Best, Ed

September 2017

9/26

We have been very productive on this mission and in the last two days I have met 2 men on my “bucket list” of folks I need to meet! My bucket list is short, it’s people that I respect and want to tell them that in person- it might be a Viet Nam vet in Maine or a Navy vet in Alabama or a sweet lady with a big heart in Florida, but these are folks that I need to meet…..

Checking my stack of customs forms, we have mailed out 40 care packs along the way and from 25 plus post offices, also giving 4 care packs to moms I have met to mail for us. I don’t know the impact, but imagine that- a mom who lost her son to PTSD mailing a care pack to another soldier?

I think we have at least 2 memorial benches for Big Al to make and I just got word that the team back home has 25 care packs ready to ship for Friday- good timing, just got a new name for a soldier with a lot of troops in Bagram. We will have some “stateside” care packs to ship also as I promised a few veterans in care homes that we would send them something!

We’re 24/7, 365 days, someday maybe the VA will figure out that they need to reach these veterans where they are- a dad in Maryland told me something I already knew, “PTSD doesn’t work from 9 to 5.” The challenge is to help and to help wherever you can. I have a Marine friend that’s really busy, but he has a song to record- I think it’s as good as “365 Days” and I also think the timing is good…..

I have a list of families from the 22TooMany database and checking them off, I have met 30 of the 240 families on our list. Now this is just our list, because doing the math of 22 veteran suicides per day, well you know the “list” is much bigger, but 30 families contacted in roughly one year is pretty good and I do want to meet them all….

My Enterprise Rental Car has been a dream- never thought I’d like a Jeep Cherokee so much, but it is efficient and corners like it’s on rails! That’s kind of a joke, but man, if we could get Enterprise and Holiday Inn Express on board to help with just this part of our mission, we could reach a lot more people….

Tonight should be my last stay on the road and I’m at the Best Western in Rogue River Oregon. There is a veteran who works here. Last time Joseph and I were up here, we left a care pack for him. You know that we will send or deliver a stateside care pack to any veteran as a thank you for serving, but this one had some benefit for us too, because the rate for the night here is the best I’ve had throughout this trip….

It’s all mission work…..

Best, Ed

9/25

And from a cool 29 degrees in Helena Montana to Everett Wash and now Astoria Oregon with some fog and rain, it is all good mission work!! In Helena I stood by the grave Christopher Michael Dana with his mom Lisa for 50 minutes while she told me about her son. I only know the minutes because she said, “I’m meeting my friends at 9:30”, and I glanced at my phone. It’s been 10 years and she is doing good, been through some struggles but doing good…

Next stop was Missoula Montana and a visit to the grave site of Lcpl Brandon Slack. i might have mentioned this Marine in a previous email- he was one of my task Force Hope veterans best friends. The cemetery was nice and well kept. I was there for a good 20 minutes and saw no one else. This was on Sunday, Gold Star Mother’s Day.

I had to press on to meet Brittny in Lake Stevens Wash, 625 miles or so on I-90 West and I-5 North, but at least I am back in my time zone!! Brittny is a widow, her husband took his own life on Halloween in 2014. She had reached out when I was in Wisconsin and redirecting northwest, well, just gave me more opportunities.

Brittny, and I am spelling her name correctly, brought her 8 year old son with her and began telling me some of her story over dinner. I listened intently but also kept track of the busy 8 year old that inadvertently stuck his finger in his eye and forgot all about the french fries in front of him, but Brittny told me that her son had lost a step dad, the veteran, Richard Lee Hough in 2014 and just last year his real dad…

This kid was in god spirits and a SeaHawk fan, his mom had a 49er hoodie on and I couldn’t believe a 49er fan was in the Seattle area. The wait staff at the restaurant were all wearing Seahawk jerseys! Well, Brittny wants to go to a home 49er game and in Nov of this year the 49ers will host the Hawks- I am thinking about working on this- maybe get some tickets and a flight for Brittny and her son to see this game???

On the way to Astoria today, I was able to stop by the grave site of SPC Richard Lee Hough at a beautiful national veterans cemetery and what I found was another well kept cemetery for our heroes. It said on the road out there- For Our Heroes.

I am sitting in a small room overlooking the marina in Astoria Oregon, my idea of a break, and with a couple of key stops left before I hit California and reflecting on the trip coast to coast with some serious zigs and zags, but meeting these families is so important and like Brittny said last night, “it’s like being on an island.” I hugged her when we parted and said, “take care of yourself Niner fan,” and then gave her son a hug too. It’s vital to meet people in person- this is what we do for each other…..

The “team” is care packing tomorrow night in Brentwood, I’m probably not back til Wed or so and then back to mission work from home- there is always something to do…..

Best, Ed

operationcreekside.org

22TooMany/Task Force Hope

9/24

I would appreciate prayer…

Twenty five and a half days into this mission and I just need to finish strong because there’s no let up when I return and some of these opportunities are maybe once in a lifetime!!

This morn I find myself in Helena Montana. It was not an intentional stop, but with no hotel rooms available in Missoula last night, I had to “swerve”, this is a mission term when you need to switch directions or…..but I ended up here in Helena. Then rec’d a message last night that a mom lives here that lost her son to soldier suicide in 2007. Christopher Michael Dana was with the US Army National Guard and is buried here in a veterans cemetery. I am meeting his mom there this morning.

I am still on track to visit the grave of US Marine Brandon Slack in Missoula, but I cannot miss this opportunity to tell Chris’ mother that I care about her loss, that America cares.

These are God given opportunities and my study this morn in Isaiah says, “Comfort, O comfort My people,” says your God. Isaiah 40:1.

I have a widow in Lake Stevens Wash to meet and a couple other important stops, then home- I just pray that I can keep focused on mission and not get distracted by wanting to be home……

Best, Ed

Romans 12:12

9/23

Well my laptop was broken from Wheeling WV to Helena Montana and a man from Brooklyn NY fixed it for $22. I am not embracing that number, but it is fairly accurate that 22 veterans per day in this country take their own lives. 22TooMany has a group of runners that run races in honor of these veterans. We have a network of families and these people help each other. It may take me til Monday for the next visit with a widow in Lake Stevens Washington, but I put in some miles yesterday, stopped again at Sgt Duvi Wolf’s grave in Farmer South Dakota, then made it to Spearfish SD.

Today I am in Helena Montana, mailed a care pack out from a small Montana post office this morn- the clerk was a US Air Force veteran and I thanked him for serving…..but I’m headed to Missoula, I hope the snow holds off! In Missoula there is a Marine buried there that was one of my Task Force Hope veterans best friend. I didn’t plan on coming back this high up, I-90, but that widow in Washington helped me to go this direction, so I-90 it is to Lake Stevens!!

I did ask my Marine if it was ok for me to visit the grave site as I don’t think he has been there yet, but every year on Oct 22, my son and I and another Task Force Hope vet and his family spend the day with our Marine. It helps him get through it and to not do anything stupid. Last year we spent 6 hours at his house and he gave us the ok to leave- this is what we do for each other….
So, the mission may seem complex, but we are multitasking and we are driven to reach as many veterans as we can, meet as many families as we can, and continue to ship the care packs to US troops deployed. On this mission, exploiting the fact that this nation is still free, I have mailed close to 40 care packs from 20 something post offices across the country while the team at home continues with our regular packs in Brentwood….

Why we travel: a man in Wisconsin gave me his son’s info, a US Army veteran who lives in Oregon. I’m gonna meet him in a few days. There’s the widow in Lake Stevens, and Marie Hammer in Klamath Falls has a Korea War veteran for me to meet too!! Maybe I’ll get to see one of my favorite veterans in Rogue River, but this is how we reach people- in person….

Best, Ed

Still Encouraged!

9/22

And there’s a WW2 veteran in Minnesota that could use a visit today and a sister of a soldier who took his own life because of PTSD in Washington state would like to visit- I have always said our mission is nationwide! These families are hurting. They need love and support. Had a good meeting with a mom in Ohio a few days ago- her son’s story is heartbreaking. They are all heartbreaking, but need to be told and heard. A mom and dad in Illinois I have met before spent a good 4 hours with me the other day and we talked like old friends.

I ended up in Troy Wisconsin yesterday and a charity golf event was going on. It’s a long story, but I knew the organizer by chance and almost spent the day, but I did not want to impose on another charity and if you’ve ever been to an event like this- the alcohol flows freely and early and as a recovering alcoholic, it’s not like I’m going to want to drink, I just choose not to be around it. So, I pressed on and made Lacrosse Wisconsin last night which puts me in reach of my veteran Bernie in a Minnesota care home and then into South Dakota. I am focused on Washington state now, checking weather and any other opportunities along the way….

There is also a Korea War veteran in Klamath Falls I’d like to meet. He knows Marie Hammer, the mom we delivered a memorial bench to in honor of her son Brady. We are building a network within our mission work. The people we meet become friends, we become family. Just the other day my pastor who spent 8 years in the US Marines thanked me for loving his extended family when I met the mom in Ohio. I told him, “these are my people.”

God Bless America!

Best, Ed

Operation Creekside/Task Force Hope/22TooMany

Be encouraged and encourage someone today!!

9/19

Well, it was Sunday after all and I’ve been missing my home church big time! But church led me to a Bible Study that night where the pastor himself needed prayer and prayer for a son who is a US Marine. I don’t know the whole story, but PTSD is probably a factor, but needing prayer is enough for me; to pray. Please pray for the estimated 600,000 veterans  that struggle with PTSD, TBI, and other issues.
I was near Bristol Tenn last night headed to my hotel in Middlesboro, Ky. when I rec’d a message from a mom I had met last year. She wanted to meet, so 68 miles south to White Pines and we were sitting at a table in Cracker Barrel talking like old friends. It was great time together and we really did talk like old friends. She gave me some really cool lanyards she had made and I gave her a care pack to mail this morning- we heal in community, we really do…..
I am headed way up north in Ohio today, may stop to see a friend here in Kentucky? But I also have a mom in North Dakota who wants to meet, so the schedule will get busy from here- I pray the weather holds up!!
Mission work is not easy but very necessary and building a network is crucial to helping veterans and these families of the 22. I didn’t have to go to war, I didn’t even have to serve, but I am serving now and it’s the least I can do for the country that I love. Meeting these families is a mission in itself and when a mom tells you that she misses her son everyday and that life still happens and she just tries to do her best,…. well, if nothing else, I have a listening hear.
With a possible ten days left on this mission, for my prayer warriors out there, please pray for opportunities to meet families, meeting them where they are and just listening to their stories. Pray for my safety in travel and strength to keep moving. I also pray for a sponsor at some point. Most of these families are very interested when I tell them about the memorial benches we’ve been building. We have only built two, but the healing power, just in the delivery is incredible! I was telling Janet last night about the veterans that accompany us when we deliver. A sponsor or sponsors to help with these part of the mission would really help. These families are hurting. If we stop soldier suicide today, they will still be hurting….
Best, Ed
Still Encouraged.

9/16

I met a dad yesterday morn in the lobby of my hotel In Cambridge and we sat and talked like old friends for over an hour. He was telling me about his son that took his own life in Jan of 2015 and how much he missed him. This dad has also served in Viet Nam, walking point for 6 months and like he said, came back with both legs!!
He invited me back to the house to meet his wife and I said I needed to take care of some business first- my bill was a little higher than expected and I just wanted to get the rate down if I could. He insisted on walking up to the counter with me and once i asked for the reduction he stepped up and said, “I will handle this.” He asked for the manager and told him about his son and that I had traveled from California to meet him. The manager took the rate down to $99 and then he insisted on paying the bill. I tried to tell him that helping me get the reduction was enough but he wouldn’t budge.
I spent the day with this man. He showed me photos of his son, a memorial area he has set up by a flagpole then hoisted a 12′ x 18′ American Flag. We shared a late morning breakfast and he led his wife and I in prayer. I told him I wanted to mail out some care packs and he took me to the local post office. I had 2 care packs ready for overseas and 1 stateside care pack. We went in to the post office and again he insisted on paying for all 3. It was not busy so he got into conversation with the clerk and told her about his son. He shed some tears and she was really moved. When we left she shook his hand with both her hands- it was quite the moment…
We had another meal at the local airport diner and I needed to get going, so again, my veteran prayed in the parking lot and we parted. I had told him and his wife earlier that I never set time limits on meetings and this day was all day. Some meetings are only 1 1/2 hours, but I always spend as much time as is needed….
These families all tell me the same thing. People don’t approach them. People don’t mention their loved ones names. They don’t often call. Today was a travel day- I needed to get to Raleigh North Carolina. A couple days here and then looking at the return trip- I know there’s a mom in Ohio that wants to meet and two Illinois families I missed on the way out. This is a mission in itself, but on the road I can do all my other duties- meeting veterans and mailing the care packs.
Still Encouraged, Ed
Operation Creekside/Task Force Hope/ 22 Too Many

9/14

A nail in the tire of my rental car kept me in Milford Delaware last night that led to a few important meetings; this morning while waiting for Firestone to call I went to a veterans home here in Delaware and got the grand tour- that’s 3 veterans homes on this trip so far and wow, are these homes nice!! I only met one veteran this morning and he was a US Marine. He said that he would do it all again and when I told him I was from California, he said that he was stationed at Camp Pendleton for a time. The 2nd meeting was a postal clerk at the Milford Post Office. He was happy to mail out the care packs and noticed the Scripture on our return address label and asked me to remind him the verse. He then told me how folks come in and ask him for prayer. I love meeting people in person!
I am in Cambridge Maryland now and meeting with a dad in the morning who lost his son to PTSD. I just read the story and it’s heartbreaking like the rest. This dad is a Viet Nam veteran and I hear he’s pretty active in the veteran community. I get to hear a lot about the let downs of the VA. This tragedy happened right after and extended stay in a VA PTSD Program. I am thinking more and more about how to expand our Task Force Hope Program- I have always thought we should do this nationwide and w/o any fanfare or media attention. We have an effective program that needs to be nationwide!!
And I will say again that even if we stop soldier suicide today, these families of the 22 will still be hurting, so there’s another mission field right there too!!!
Best, Ed
Operation Creekside/Task Force Hope/22TooMany

9/13

Time flies at this event and after 3 long and awesome days on the dock, there were family festivities last night- a talent show and dance, this morn we will send them off hopefully encouraged and refreshed! One of our warriors here tipped me off to a mutual friend who is struggling- he is a US Army veteran not far from here in Delaware, so that’s where I’m headed after lunch. This mission really is nationwide! An estimated 600,000 veterans suffer from PTSD, TBI, and other issues- we need to meet more vets and meet them where they are!!
I have families of the 22 to visit also, this is a another mission field all together, but again, if we stop soldier suicide today these families will still be hurting. I will be in this general area, east coast, for a few days and then to North Carolina. Hopefully the Lord Himself will guide my route and give me safe travels as I’m back on the road again!!
These families did well here. This is more than another “free” event for veterans. The Joni and Friends staff and the volunteers who paid their way to do this mission really do care about the families and it shows. I am very blessed to be a small part of it.
The Dock Guy, still serving but for a much better cause…
Best, Ed

9/11

 Day 2 in the books, working the docks all day and helping get 32 care packs ready to ship; right after this event, I start shipping. Today was a beautiful day on the Chesapeake Bay. Both boats today caught fish, we sent out a father and a son, a husband and wife, a father and two sons and a blind US Marine with his loyal camp volunteer. Within minutes of the last boat going out the boat captain sent me back a pic of the blind Marine with a fish, and like I said, all boats today caught fish!!
There is so much going on here, our warriors are doing well and the families are well taken care of. We have 24 warrior families here and 65 volunteers. These volunteers pay to be here and work these crazy hours to honor these families. It is amazing to see. It’s kind of like 2008 when Joseph and I went to Florida to learn care packing from Bob Williams, the king of care packing at the time. You have to learn and work with the best!!
On Wednesday morning as people run for planes to get home, I will be patiently waiting for my next assignment- this month is for outreach and only God knows where I may be going next!! There’s a veteran here who lives in a veterans home above Philadelphia and I may go visit him, and there are many more families of the 22 that could use a visit…
Six hours on the docks today made me daydream about my little tugboat, the Alyssa Joe, and how cool it would be to chug around in these beautiful waters- you never know!! Helping the veterans in and out of the boats and helping the families boarding the big pontoon boat is good duty for this old dock hand, one more day on the docks and then we’re winding down…
We did honor the day, Sep 11, with a moment of silence and we played God Bless America. One of our veterans here was at the Pentagon on this day in 2011. It was a tough day here for him for sure, but he was with good people and did pretty well…
Still Encouraged, Ed

9/10

There’s a good group of veterans here with their families at Sandy Cove in North East Maryland and I get to start my “job” today, helping the veterans in and out of the boats for fishing on the Chesapeake Bay. If you know me, I spent 30 years on the water, building docks and walking docks with no decking on them- so this is easy for me, even if the wind comes up, I can stand on this little dock for hours. One year here Cpl Timothy Donley, a double amputee, was out fishing and they were so late coming in that we almost missed dinner!! That night I sat at the table with his family. The “work” leads to opportunities!!
I had dinner last night with a Marine who served in Viet Nam. He shared a lot and even about a promise to a dying Marine some 52 years ago that he has faithfully kept. There is something about Marines you know. He lives in a veterans home above Philadelphia and he also shared about how good the care was. This should be the standard for our veterans- excellent care.
Going into a morning briefing- even us civilians have to take orders, because our level of care and service also has to be excellent. We don’t know what is going on with these families, but what we offer is a “break” and you should see how well these volunteers take care of these kids! Volunteers that pay their way to be here! It’s a honor just to work with these people. The bonus is to meet and to serve these worthy veterans…..
And here we go!!
Best, Ed

9/6

On Sep 5 I mailed 1 care pack out from Fennimore Wisconsin and today 1 each from Morris Illinois and Hebron Indiana. This really isn’t “all fun and games”, just exploiting the fact that we live in a free country thanks to our military and mailing out these care packs that encourage our troops tremendously can be done from anywhere!!
I was able to meet two families of the 22 yesterday. These meetings are never easy but I feel very necessary because every family says the same thing, “people just don’t approach us, people don’t ask us how we are doing.”
Today is the 6th anniversary of the loss of US Marine Cody Engren. I just met his parents days ago and rec’d a message from his mom today that prompted me to send a text to his dad. He thanked me for reaching out and its’ the least I could do…
And traveling coast to coast, meeting families, mailing out the care packs, meeting veterans, I ended up in Ft Wayne Indiana this afternoon and rec’d word from Keri at 22TooMany that there was a service here for a soldier that took his own life last week. Our network is growing and through a local contact I was able to attend and I’m going to share my perspective….
This is only the 2nd one of these for me and the similarities are; lots of people, civilians and military, a young man in the casket, a grieving mother, kids who lost a father, I could go on, but I spent some time with his best friend…. a young man that told me straight up about the difficulties his friend faced, the lack of help from the VA, the drugs that they prescribed, the family issues, the isolation……..
I stayed around long enough to see them load the casket in the hearse and watched his kids and family say their last good byes, before the door shut and it drove away. I asked the best friend if guys that were struggling should see this picture and what their families would go through if they took their own life and he said yes….
The preacher talked a lot about hope and about reality and some of it me and the best friend didn’t really find comforting- we were just being honest with each other, What I see is 3 kids without a father. One thing he did say that I found encouraging was this, “at the end of the day we can rejoice that God is still God.”
So, tomorrow I’m going to blast across Ohio and get closer to my destination and get ready for 5 1/2 or 6 days of mission work, with Joni and Friends at a warrior getaway. It’s work with long hours and little rest, but it is also so rewarding and little things like seeing happy kids and warriors catching fish on the Chesapeake Bay, well, it’s priceless….
Best, Ed
Operation Creekside/Task Force Hope/22TooMany

9/5

Yesterday morn South Dakota State PGR Captain Randy Ward met me in Sioux Falls and on his trusty 1998 Harley he led me to a veterans home in Lucerne Minn. The grounds of this place are beautiful and we found happy and well cared for veterans inside! This is the standard that should be in every care home!!
We met several veterans and Randy was making the rounds, talking to all of them, while I kneeled down to talk to one US Army veteran named Bernie. He was a soft spoken man with steel blue eyes and he asked so many questions like, “what are you doing here from California?” I really didn’t want to talk to him about the 22 veteran suicides, so I just pointed up and to use that old line in the movie Blues Brothers, I implied that I was “on a mission from God.”
I thought I was gonna get a sermon because Bernie lit up, smiled and said, “that’s good, He will take care of you.” We had quite the conversation after that and I told Randy when we left, “I’m the one who gets blessed.” It’s meeting people where they are, even if it’s only a few minutes or an hour- the mission field is huge!!
Within one half hour I am to meet another mom who has lost her son to PTSD related suicide. I say related because PTSD is the cause. At a truck stop in Worthington Mn I find Sheri and we talk outside for a bit, her daughter comes by, drops off Sheri’s grandson and we go inside for lunch. This meet lasted some time as Sheri is active within the military community helping veterans and helping families. I was listening intently but also thinking about making it to Aledo Il…
I left about 2 pm with a 6 hour drive ahead, but my Aledo family had taken a last minute camping trip and were not home! This “swerve” was actually to head due east and wonder where I might end up? My GPS then took me into northeastern Iowa and I saw some small town American pride, especially in Leroy!! I crossed the Mississippi River last night and ended up in Prairie du Chien Wisconsin.
Today I’m headed for Antioch Illinois with Ft Wayne Indiana possibly in my radar as I close in on North East Maryland for the event that I will work for Joni and Friends at a warrior getaway- it’s hard to believe this will be my 5th event with them. It’s like the SuperBowl of my mission field and working with the best of the best….
Still encouraged, Ed
Operation Creekside/Task Force Hope/22TooMany

9/3

A photo of the memorial bench for Brady James Hammer came via text from his mother today while I’ve barreling down I-90 through beautiful South Dakota today after a full day and a half of mission work…..
Leaving Custer Wyoming yesterday morn, my first stop was the Black Hills National Cemetery. That registry up front at any national cemetery will get you right to any grave site. I found Cody’s easily and noticed the anniversary of his death is soon- Sep 6, 2011, a 22 year old that served, did two tours, suffered from PTSD and is already gone from this earth.
The next stop was his mom and dad’s house in Custer South Dakota and it seemed like hours and I guess it was that we just sat on the back deck talking, mostly me listening to Dan Engren telling me about his son. These meetings are very important- if the VA would ever figure out we need to do this on a large scale….but in the meantime, I will faithfully visit these families the best I can.
This morning I left the Engren’s house and yes I spent the night and in Cody’s room- for my sponsors this is how I save money and for the mission this is valuable time with families. I met Patriot Guard and American Legion Riders at a veterans home in Hot Springs SD and we visited the veterans there and received the grand tour- I’ve never seen a nicer care home!!
From Hot Springs up to Rapid City and then across the state, a very important meeting with PGR Assistant State Chaplain Randy Ward was in order and we went together to the final resting place of Sgt Duvi Wolf at a very small cemetery in Farmer SD. This is how we met in 2015 when we delivered the care pack to Duvi. Randy, a Viet Nam US Army veteran says she’s been special to him since they escorted her home in 2009. This time was special to me because it was just Randy and I visiting Duvi- we both reflected on how a female born in Mexico had come to this country as a child and then served and died for our freedom..
Randy and I will visit another veterans home in the morning and then I have another mom to meet in Minnesota with the next stop planned somewhere in Illinois. These visits are important. These families are hurting. I get valuable information that helps me do mission better and these families, every one of them confirm this- people don’t approach them.
I am encouraged, Ed
Operation Creekside/Task Force Hope/22TooMany

Discovery Bay, Ca 94505

Best, Ed

9/3

A photo of the memorial bench for Brady James Hammer came via text from his mother today while I’ve barreling down I-90 through beautiful South Dakota today after a full day and a half of mission work…..
Leaving Custer Wyoming yesterday morn, my first stop was the Black Hills National Cemetery. That registry up front at any national cemetery will get you right to any grave site. I found Cody’s easily and noticed the anniversary of his death is soon- Sep 6, 2011, a 22 year old that served, did two tours, suffered from PTSD and is already gone from this earth.
The next stop was his mom and dad’s house in Custer South Dakota and it seemed like hours and I guess it was that we just sat on the back deck talking, mostly me listening to Dan Engren telling me about his son. These meetings are very important- if the VA would ever figure out we need to do this on a large scale….but in the meantime, I will faithfully visit these families the best I can.
This morning I left the Engren’s house and yes I spent the night and in Cody’s room- for my sponsors this is how I save money and for the mission this is valuable time with families. I met Patriot Guard and American Legion Riders at a veterans home in Hot Springs SD and we visited the veterans there and received the grand tour- I’ve never seen a nicer care home!!
From Hot Springs up to Rapid City and then across the state, a very important meeting with PGR Assistant State Chaplain Randy Ward was in order and we went together to the final resting place of Sgt Duvi Wolf at a very small cemetery in Farmer SD. This is how we met in 2015 when we delivered the care pack to Duvi. Randy, a Viet Nam US Army veteran says she’s been special to him since they escorted her home in 2009. This time was special to me because it was just Randy and I visiting Duvi- we both reflected on how a female born in Mexico had come to this country as a child and then served and died for our freedom..
Randy and I will visit another veterans home in the morning and then I have another mom to meet in Minnesota with the next stop planned somewhere in Illinois. These visits are important. These families are hurting. I get valuable information that helps me do mission better and these families, every one of them confirm this- people don’t approach them.
I am encouraged, Ed
Operation Creekside/Task Force Hope/22TooMany

Discovery Bay, Ca 94505

Best, Ed

9/1

Mailed from Escalon and Discovery Bay, Ca, Lovelock and Battle Mountain, Nv., and Wendover Ut. so far, with Evanston Wy in my sights today.
Meeting up with American Legion Riders in Green River and Rock Springs today- these riders have accompanied us on two missions through Wyoming. It is very important to meet veterans as well as the families of the 22. 
Will try to meet with Dave and April Thompson today depending on their schedule and end up in Casper Wyoming tonight- there is a Patriot Guard Rider and Viet Nam Veteran I’d like to visit with there!
God Bless America.
Prayers for Houston.
Best, Ed
Second Email
The lady at the counter was wearing a red support our troops shirt and I asked her about it. Her son is deployed on the USS Nimitz and she will give me the address in the morning!! 
Shipped out 1 care pack from Evanston Wyoming today, visited with American Legion Riders in Rock Springs and had lunch with April Thompson and gave her a care pack to mail out on Tuesday. April told me over lunch how much the memorial bench meant to her that we had made in honor of her son Josh who took his own life in 2013.
And with 3 good visits in, I headed for Casper Wyoming to meet with my friend and PGR State Captain Richard Parks. Richard and another rider had led us through most of Wyoming in 2015 when we delivered the Sgt Duvi Wolf care package. We had dinner and just talked about mission- his group does 2 to 3 funeral escorts weekly for veterans. 
In the morning I will head to Gillette Wyoming, then into South Dakota to the Black Hills Nat’l Cemetery where Lcpl Cody Glenn Engen USMC is buried and then to Custer to meet his mom and dad. I can’t say I like this duty, but I know for a fact that someone has to do it. I could not put a price tag on the lunch conversation today with April and the time spent tonight with Richard Parks just talking like old friends!
On Sunday morning a promised visit to a Hot Springs SD veterans home with the PGR of Rapid City and then across the state to Sgt Duvi Wolf’s grave site. This time I will leave the flag I have for her and her photo and again meet up with the Sioux Falls area PGR.
There’s a Viet Nam vet in Sioux Falls I really need to see and a mom in Minnesota to meet on Monday and then maybe a long run to Illinois before heading east again……as you can see, it’s all mission- this thing they call PTSD has no boundaries and neither do we. These veterans we serve, young and old, live in every state and so do these families of the 22 that take their lives daily….
If nothing else, we say we care, we involve others, especially veterans wherever we go and the goal is to encourage everyone we contact. My team keeps working while I’m away and I have a car load of care packs to ship and goods to give to veterans I meet along the way.
These families are hurting and if we stop soldier suicide today, they will still be hurting. I get very similar stories from all of them- people do not approach them much and I have found that they are very approachable. It’s a huge honor to hear about their loved ones. Isolation, whether it’s a veteran struggling or a family mourning a loss, is not healthy….one of my Marines says, “build a new unit- let trusted people into your circle.” That’s what we’re doing- I don’t see “divided”, I see united!
I got long winded, but just wanted to share- if you can help with this mission and/or ongoing care pack operations, please see operationcreekside.org, like and share our Facebook Page. Checks to Operation Creekside are always greatly appreciated; memo- care packs, veteran support or Mission22.
Operation Creekside
PO Box 1758
Discovery Bay, Ca 94505
Best, Ed