On Thursday and Friday, Shepherd’s Men, a team of active duty, medically retired and honorably discharged servicemen and civilian patriots ran and swam to raise funds and awareness for treatment options and suicide prevention for veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), while honoring all those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, as well as those injured as a result of decades of combat.
Hosted by the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center, several of the team members swam in the Tennessee River, while others ran from the Heritage Center to the Chattahoochee National Cemetery and back in a sequential format. Within the 22-hours, all team members completed just over 22 miles—which is three, 6.22-mile evolutions, plus one final 3.5 mile ruck march to the National Cemetery.
Shepherd’s Men is raising funds to support the Shepherd Center’s Share Military Initiative (SHARE), a nationally acclaimed program that has transformed lives for more than 700 veterans and families at no charge to veterans. This 12-week, comprehensive program provides treatment for post-9/11 veterans who have sustained mild to moderate TBI and PTSD.
“We raise money and awareness for our veterans to honor them—brothers and sisters who have lost their lives, for our brother and sisters who are still fighting long after they leave the battlefield and for our brothers and sisters who have not yet returned from war,” said Travis Ellis, Shepherd’s Men co-founder. “We will not rest until the number of lives lost every day to suicide goes from 22 to zero. Our beloved veterans deserve to live meaningful, gratifying lives with their families after their honorable service to this country.”
Shepherd’s Men complied with all COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions.
Here’s the Sept. 10-11 schedule:
Thursday, Sept. 10
- 9:45 a.m. – Shepherd’s Men assembled at the Fallen Five Memorial for a brief program. Opening remarks were delivered by Colonel Frank Hughes, USMC (retired). He is former post commander of Mile Battery, which is where the terrorist attack occurred next to the Fallen Five Memorial. Frank is also a Trustee of the National Medal of Honor Center and EVP of SmartBank. The program also included a prayer, laying of a wreath and concluded with Taps.
- After the program, ten members, in two-person teams swam in the Tennessee River in 400-500 - meter rotations until they covered six miles.
- Shepherd’s Men, once again, in two person teams, completed the 6.22 mile-circuit to the National Cemetery and back to the Medal of Honor Heritage Center.
Friday, Sept. 11
- At 6:30 a.m. on Sept. 11, all team members completed over 22 miles, finishing three, 6.22-mile evolutions.
- 7:15 a.m. – Shepherd’s Men began a 3.5-mile ruck march to the National Cemetery. All members carried anywhere from 22-93-pound ruck sacks. Each number carried a specific meaning associated with 9/11.
- 8:15 a.m. – Bagpiper proceeded from the Chattanooga Zoo to the National Cemetery.
- 8:46 a.m. – Shepherd’s Men entered Chattanooga National Cemetery at the exact time the North Tower was struck on Sept. 11, 2001. A wreath was placed on the grave of SSgt. David Wyatt (one of the Fallen Five), the piper played Taps and concluded the event with Amazing Grace.
“We are honored to host Medal of Honor Society's Citizen Honor recipient Travis Ellis and Shepherd’s Men for their salute to our veterans during this somber time in our country’s history,” said Keith Hardison, executive director of the Charles H. Coolidge National Medal of Honor Heritage Center. “Their commitment to bold patriotism and sincere acknowledgment of the service and sacrifices our veterans made in defense of our country align with the six character traits embodied by the Medal of Honor and its recipients -- Patriotism, Citizenship, Courage, Integrity, Sacrifice and Commitment.”