Pawtucket National Guard member running to help veterans

Jon Vasquez

Twenty-four-year-old Jon Vasquez of Pawtucket joined the National Guard four years ago for a number of reasons: the all-around benefits and to do his part to fight for the country.

"School, helping like, the whole, everything, just helping everybody out," Vasquez said.

"And the crazy thing is, when you're out and some people see you in uniform, they say hi. And it's a great feeling," Vasquez said. "They want to shake your hand. It just makes you feel better, seeing as you're helping them out but you feel like a super hero."

Vasquez hasn't been deployed yet, but he said he's ready when that call comes.

"I just want to just go out there and support the whole country," Vasquez said.

Now he's running to help those who've already fought that battle. It's estimated that one out of three veterans come back with the invisible wounds of war: post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries.

"You might not know them personally, but they are family. We are all family, so we help each other out," Vasquez said.

On Saturday, July 19, Vasquez and hundreds of others will "Run to Home Base" at Fenway, sponsored by Massachusetts General Hospital and the Red Sox Foundation, a nonprofit organization set up to raise money for those veterans who've been injured, and their families.

Since it began in 2008, the program has helped more than 1,000 veterans and their families across New England and trained more than 11,000 clinicians in treatment procedures nationwide.

"When you go out there, there's just a lot of stress building up," Vasquez said.

The tension, the injuries, the death, that haunt long after returning home.

"There's a lot in your head playing. When you go to sleep, you start thinking about it, and you don't want to think about it," Vasquez said.

To do your part, you can pledge to Vasquez and his team, the Red Sox Army Guard. Click on the "donate to a runner" tab.