GallantFew and Why We’re Running in February
Veterans from all branches of uniformed service helping other Vets connect, adjust and achieve – that’s the core mission of GallantFew, the nonprofit organization based in Roanoke, Texas, that benefits from February’s Run Ranger Run events. Money raised goes to help Veterans make a smooth and successful transition back to civilian life.
GallantFew was founded in 2010 by Dallas businessman Karl Monger, who began his military career as an Army ROTC scholarship cadet at Wichita State University. After college, as a U.S. Army Ranger, he parachuted with the 1st Ranger Battalion into Kuwait in 1992. Monger, now in his late 50s, currently holds the rank of Major, retired Reserves.
Having seen the powerful one-on-one connections made in his work with the Big Brother mentoring program, Monger says he started GallantFew intending to offer one-to-one help for disabled Veterans to curb the alarming number of suicides among Vets (currently around 22 a day, according to the most recent figures available). At first, his organization was for Rangers only, but it has expanded to include any service members. (All they need to register with GallantFew is a military email address or other proof of service.) More than 7,000 Veterans and volunteers now are involved in programs across the U.S. dealing with common problems among Vets, from coping with PTSD and traumatic brain injuries, to overcoming substance abuse problems and the feelings of isolation that can lead to homelessness and suicide.
Matching Vets with hometown mentors is a central goal of GallantFew. Monger says the Vet in need and his or her Vet “Guide” ideally will be matched because they live in the same city or town, have been in the same branch of service, have worked in the same Military Occupational Specialty, have had the same units of assignment, were deployed in the same theaters of combat and have similar injuries.
To find those hometown mentors, GallantFew has created a nationwide network of successfully transitioned Vets willing to help. Programs such as the fitness-focused fundraiser Run Ranger Run also bring together new communities of volunteers eager to engage in welcoming, supporting, connecting, and including Veterans in all aspects of civilian life. Other initiatives started by GallantFew are The Darby Project (U.S. Army Rangers) and The Raider Project (U.S. Marine Corps Special Operations and infantry Veterans). Coming soon, says Monger, is a new program called Wings Level, specifically for U.S. Air Force Veterans. Monger also produces and hosts the podcast “The New American Veteran,” discussing Vet issues.
The experiences of U.S. Army Ranger Veteran Corporal Cory Smith inspired the creation of Run Ranger Run. Twice deployed to combat zones, Smith saw friends killed and wounded and, when he came home, saw his marriage fall apart. Smith decided to make a symbolic run of 565 miles in 28 days to highlight the difficult journey home from active duty that many soldiers have. GallantFew had just gotten started, says Monger, but “we were able to help [Cory Smith] with logistics and get him linked up with brothers and community support along his entire 565-mile route.” Halfway through the run, Smith developed stress fractures, but completed the journey by biking and walking. “He didn’t give up and he used all that was available to him to stay in the fight and honor his commitment,” says Monger.
Today Run Ranger Run, which takes place every February, is GallantFew’s largest awareness and fundraising event of the year. It’s “a story of victory and triumph that resonates,” says Monger. The 2017 Run Ranger Run included 1336 participants from the U.S. and around the globe; with 214 teams; 2132 donors; 104,440 miles logged; and $191,000 pledged.
From the power of one came the power of many volunteers, including the hundreds of Associates on the 32 teams throughout Carrington as we physically participate for this first time this year.