Sergeant 1st Class Maité Bengoa, a Brooke Army Medical Center employee, is ready to run. The Boise, Idaho, native is set to take part in this weekend’s Texas Independence Relay.
The race was originally scheduled for March, but had to be postponed due to coronavirus.
Bengoa is taking the opportunity to draw attention to a cause close to her heart: suicide prevention. She said in a statement that transitioning to life outside the military can be difficult, with factors like PTSD playing a role.
“Sometimes people have a hard time adjusting to life outside the military, or they have PTSD, or some other issues,” Bengoa added in the statement. “A lot of us have had thoughts of suicide or have had friends or one of our soldiers who either tried or talked to us about it. We want people to know we hear them and that there are resources available for them.”
She said she wants her soldiers -- and those close to her -- to know she’s available as a resource if anyone has any thoughts of self-harm, or if they know someone who does.
For anyone who would like to cheer on Bengoa’s team, called "Don't Get in a Van with Strangers," the relay begins on Saturday, May 23rd at 6 a.m. The starting line is at 2059 Rio Ranchero in Pipe Creek.
For anyone who needs help for themselves or a loved one, they may call the Suicide Prevention Hotline 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org.