Retired Army Col. David Dodd to keynote local Carry The Load Rally
US Army Retired Colonel David Dodd will not only keynote the 2016 Carry The Load event in Mount Pleasant on Friday, May 27, but he will also walk with the local group on their stretch to “carry the load” across the country to encourage awareness of the true meaning of Memorial Day.
Dodd is a man of deep faith, a husband, and father. He’s “carried the load” as a soldier and now as a veteran. Currently, he serves on the Board of Directors of Point 27, a national outreach to Veterans, military families, first responders, athletes and the chronically ill.
Dodd served more than 27 years in the military, including two deployments to Iraq and one deployment to Afghanistan. He commanded one of the first battalions deployed to Afghanistan following 9/11. Those soldiers wore dog tag necklaces called Shields of Strength with their military issued dog tags. The Shields display Joshua 1:9: “I will be strong and courageous. I will not be terrified or discouraged, for the Lord my God is with me wherever I go.”
Next week, Dodd will be bringing Shields of Strength for each attendee at this year’s CTL event. The Shields are in military history, literature, and news accounts, and their stories mark another chapter with the Mount Pleasant CTL Rally.
Dodd’s service record includes commands of a US Army Company in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm, a Battalion in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom, a Battalion in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom and a Brigade in Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina relief operations. He and the soldiers in each of his commands wore Shields of Strength, while on combat and humanitarian missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, the United States, and in Central and South America.
While on active duty, David shared more than 10,000 Shields of Strength with members of the Armed Forces, military families, and senior U.S. and international leaders.
On Friday (May 27), Mount Pleasant’s Carry the Load Rally attendees, Veterans, and first responders will comprise the first Carry The Load group receiving the Shields of Strength.
“We intend to give everyone attending the CTL Rally a Shield of Strength,” Dodd said. “We will ask them to wear the Shield and when they see a member of the Armed Forces or a First Responder, to thank them for their service and give them their Shield of Strength.”
Dodd said he felt the Carry The Load purpose was important and one he totally supports:
“Members of the Armed Forces are encouraged and strengthened when the American people support them. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines will work hard, take risks, face hardship and danger because they love what they do, and believe in what they are doing. If the American people withhold their support, or their resolve weakens, it adversely impacts the combat readiness of the Armed Forces. It is essential for the deployed men and women, their families, and the families of Fallen Soldiers to know that the American people will not abandon or forget them.”
“I fully support Clint Bruce (former Navy SEAL and war Veteran, who founded “Carry the Load” and his vision for the event. I suspect most members of the Armed Forces and Veterans have had similar thoughts about civilians who seem to have forgotten the meaning of Memorial Day, as a time to honor those who died while serving America and those who continue to serve and sacrifice and their families who likewise sacrifice greatly.
“The word picture created by Carry the Load is compelling on many levels. Warriors do carry heavy loads of combat gear and equipment. Often they take massive mental and emotional burdens: missing loved ones during long separations, the responsibility to accomplish complex missions in adverse circumstance, responsibility for the safety of members of their unit, loss or injury of friends, and sometimes questioning some of their decisions. A soldier’s physical, mental and emotional load is significant. They will Carry the Load as far and as long as they possibly can without asking for help. That is how they are wired: to Carry the Load for others.
“Today, less than half of 1 percent of the American population serves in the Armed Forces, so that small percent Carry the Load for all of us. They defend the freedom every American enjoys. Memorial Day is an opportunity to honor all of those who have Carried The Load and are Carrying the Load: a time to honor military families who Carry The Load, often through long periods of separations, and the stress
and worry associated with war. It is especially a time to honor those who died while Carrying The Load and their family members, officially designated as Gold Star Families. Gold Star Families Carry The Load throughout their life, a heavy burden for a parent, sibling, spouse or child of a Fallen Warrior.”
Dodd lauded the local M.O.M. group which is sponsoring the local CTL rally:
“M.O.M. is a wonderful organization that encourages and strengthens members of the Armed Forces. When service members receive care packages and prayers, especially from people they don’t know, they are reassured that the American people support them. It reminds them that they are not forgotten. M.O.M.’s acts of kindness cause soldiers to pause and wonder why members of M.O.M. would pray for them and send care packages to them. Upon reflection, they see Christ-like love, and often it leads them to establish or strengthen a relationship with Jesus Christ. Many people say they support the troops, and I’m glad they say it; however, M.O.M. backs up their words with actions.”
Regarding the local Rally’s emphasis on creating awareness of the number of Veterans committing suicide in this country, Dodd said:
“Veteran suicide rates are higher than non-Veterans’ rates and it is alarming. These men and women served and sacrificed for each of us. For many veterans, the transition from military to civilian lifestyle is very difficult. While in the service, they are members of a team with strong bonds, relationships, and security. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines take care of each other. Leaving those friends, a profession they trained for, and the safety of the organization is a significant transition. In addition to the usual military-to-civilian transition challenges, some Veterans have extra burdens of physical, mental, and emotional health issues. Health problems combined with the stress of transitioning from military service complicates an already challenging life event.
“These are tough issues, but we can help these men and women who sacrificed for us. We can help through employment opportunities, welcoming Veterans into our communities, churches, and civic organizations. We can befriend a Veteran, listen, encourage, and help as opportunities present themselves. We can share the love, hope, forgiveness, and power of God’s Word with Veterans. God’s Word is powerful and His unconditional love can bring hope to the hopeless. Sharing Christ-like love with a Veteran is the best we can do.”
• The Carry The Load (CTL) Ministering Our Military (M.O.M.) Rally, Lunch, and Memorial Walk is from 10:30 a.m. and run until 1:00 p.m. Friday, May 27.
• The Rally begins at 10:30 a.m. outside the Chamber of Commerce, 1604 N. Jefferson Ave.
• The Carry The Load National Relay team does not arrive until 11:00 a.m.
• The actual program will begin around 11:15 a.m., with Dodd, speaking around 11:40 a.m.
• The Mount Pleasant portion of the national relay starts at 1:00 p.m. with a walk of approximately 10 miles west to Winfield.
• According to M.O.M. co-chair Kellye Cooper, the primary local CTL focus this year is on “22 a day,” creating awareness of the reported 22 Veterans a day who commit suicide.
• Last year’s CTL Rally in Mount Pleasant drew more than 1,000 attendees.
ABOUT MINISTERING OUR MILITARY
The local M.O.M. organization is an outreach to the country’s military service men and women. The group has set a mission to provide care packages to military members deployed or stationed in the U.S. and overseas, and has stated a commitment:”
• to praying for the safety and well-being of military troops
• bringing community awareness to the sacrifices they are making to preserve freedom
• honoring Veterans for their military service.
ABOUT CARRY THE LOAD
“Carry the Load” is a non-profit dedicated to restoring the true meaning of Memorial Day. “Carry the Load” provides productive ways to honor the countless military, law enforcement, firefighters and rescue personnel who dedicate their lives to keeping our country safe.
The CTL national relay is a bi-coastal relay event throughout the month of May leading up to Memorial Day. The National Relay is comprised of an East Coast route from Boston to Dallas and a West Coast route from Seattle to Dallas. On the way, CTL moves through Mount Pleasant along Hwy. 67 with a stop at the local Rally in front of the Chamber of Commerce on North Jefferson, then along Hwy. 67 west to Winfield and moving toward Dallas. The relay concludes with a 20-hour and 16-minute Memorial March in Dallas over Memorial Day weekend.