When Army veteran Andres Cardenas woke up from his coma, nothing was going to stop him from joining fellow retired service members in the Texas Patriot Ruck March. Cardenas served during Operation Desert Storm, and when he finally came home for good, he was seemingly in good health.
However, his unseen injuries from his service came to the surface earlier this year, and quickly, Cardenas found himself in the hospital with failing lungs, liver and kidneys.
“I was in a coma for two months, I was on life support,” Cardenas told KRIS-TV. “It wasn’t nice at all.”
Thankfully, Cardenas woke up just in time for his 51st birthday. Now that he’s had the chance to recover, the Texas veteran wants to show his support for fellow service members by participating in the Burn Pits 360’s third annual Texas Patriot Ruck March on October 30. The march covers 22 miles and raises funds and awareness for veterans facing issues with mental health. The cause is especially important to Cardenas, who said his latest health complications were a direct result of his service.
“I was there and I suffered,” Cardenas shared.
Cardenas looks forward to the opportunity to march alongside brothers and sisters in arms, his first march since active duty.
“This gives me a chance to help other veterans,” said Cardenas. “What I like about it is that my wife and my daughter can participate with me.”
Texas Veteran and Family Hope to Help Others Facing Similar Issues
Though they won’t be marching beside him, the Texas veteran’s family has opted to work the last water station before the finish line. So, they’ll be able to see their hero complete the huge milestone. But more than that, they’ll be a part of the huge support system that the ruck creates. Veterans and their families will have the chance to come together and demonstrate their willingness to lend a hand in the battle against mental and emotional trauma from service.
“That’s what it’s about, the community, the helping each other out,” wife Lucinda Cardenas explained. “It helps other veterans, families, spouses, kids to understand that you’re not in it alone. We’re all here together.”
She also noted that the experience will surely be emotional for the family.
“I’m going to be crying,” Lucinda said. “Seeing him crossing that finish line… it’s making me tear up now thinking of him just coming, coming home.”
“We get a real (sense of) accomplishment helping other veterans,” the Texas veteran added.
Along with helping the veteran community, this year’s Texas Patriot Ruck March also benefits the family of Texas Dept. of Safety Trooper Juan Tovar who died in the line of duty this past April.