Fighting the Battle at Home
November 11, 2019
Ohio Edison’s Micah Herndon is a soldier in more ways than one. During his four years in the Marine Corps, Micah completed more than 400 missions in Iraq and Afghanistan as a gunner on Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. And while in Afghanistan, he witnessed the devastating deaths of three comrades – Mark Juarez, Matthew Ballard and Rupert Hamer – due to an improvised explosive device. As a result, he’s battled post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) like many of our military loved ones.
However, Micah has not let his fight with PTSD stop his motivation for moving ahead with life and finding a way to honor his fallen friends. In fact, his need to honor them made national news earlier this year. Determined to complete the Boston Marathon, Micah – wearing nametags for his three friends – crawled across the finish line after leg cramps made it impossible to continue running.
With all of the media attention over his inspiring finish, Micah received an invitation from Good Morning America to participate in the New York City Marathon and train with a professional running coach who is a former Olympian.
New Mission: Running for Life
Micah said he started running several years ago as a release mechanism. The sport helped him cope with PTSD.
“Running saved my marriage and my life,” said Micah, who works as an underground electrician B at the Fairlawn Service Center. “If I’m not running, I feel incomplete.”
In preparation for the New York City Marathon, Micah completed the half-marathon race at the Akron Marathon in late September. After the Akron event, he said he was ready to earn his New York invite – and earn it he did.
On Nov. 3, Micah completed the New York City Marathon through the city’s five boroughs in 3 hours and 5 minutes, besting his Boston time by 33 minutes.
“Overall, being able to run this race was just an absolute blessing from start to finish,” he said. “From the moment I arrived in New York City for marathon week to when I flew out after being on Good Morning America.”
The ABC show interviewed Micah the day after the marathon and surprised him and other marathon finishers in the audience with a 90-minute massage session and various gift certificates.
“It truly was a blessing being a part of and witnessing the largest marathon in the world,” he said.
A Little Help from Friends
In addition to running, Micah’s other passion is raising awareness of PTSD. Fellow veterans and coworkers Jeremiah Gorkos, general manager, Regional Operations Support, and Jesse LaFromboise, general manager, Regional Operations Services, told Micah about Save a Warrior™ (SAW), which provides veterans, military personnel, police, firefighters and other first responders with a community of support and techniques to overcome post-traumatic stress and suicidal tendencies.
“Save a Warrior really grabbed my attention because it wasn’t the same old assistance program,” said Micah. “Save a Warrior digs deeper to uncover the root causes of PTSD and how to move forward.”
Micah also said our Veterans & Allies Employee Business Resource Group (EBRG) has been great for him.
“The group welcomed me right in and is very supportive,” he said. “Companies can greatly benefit from having groups like Veterans & Allies – and to actively recruit veterans when hiring. Vets bring a great deal to the company – our work ethic, commitment and experience. I’m very grateful that FirstEnergy realizes this and has embraced it. Hopefully more companies will do the same.”