September 2017

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