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Not just a run: Grand Forks AFB Airman goes the extra mile

Staff Sgt. Brendan Brustad, 319th Air Base Wing executive, wears his custom-made shirt June 24, 2016, on Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D. Brustad will wear this shirt as he makes his way from Winnipeg, Canada, to Grand Forks AFB. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ryan Sparks/Released)

Staff Sgt. Brendan Brustad, 319th Air Base Wing executive, wears his custom-made shirt June 24, 2016, on Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D. Brustad will wear this shirt as he makes his way from Winnipeg, Canada, to Grand Forks AFB. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ryan Sparks/Released)

Staff Sgt. Brendan Brustad, 319th Air Base Wing executive, plans to pass this sign as he returns to Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., June 30, 2016. Brustad ran at least 22 miles-a-day for the month of June 2016 to bring awareness to veteran suicides and post-traumatic stress disorder. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ryan Sparks/Released)

Staff Sgt. Brendan Brustad, 319th Air Base Wing executive, plans to pass this sign as he returns to Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., June 30, 2016. Brustad ran at least 22 miles-a-day for the month of June 2016 to bring awareness to veteran suicides and post-traumatic stress disorder. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ryan Sparks/Released)

GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. --

Tomorrow, June 25, 2016, he leaves for Canada. Staff Sgt. Brendan Brustad, 319th Air Base Wing executive, is on day 25 of 30 running at least 22 miles a day to bring awareness to those veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The number 22 represents the number of veteran suicides that occur each day. Running more than 650 miles in only 30 days is a daunting task, but it took Brustad a lot of planning and coordination to make his dream a reality.

Brustad said he runs his 22 miles at 3 a.m. each morning, which allows him to get cleaned up and ready for his normal work day. For the final leg of his month-long journey, Brustad will run from Winnipeg, Canada to Grand Forks AFB spanning six days. A run of this magnitude took well-coordinated planning.

Running on base is easy because there are sidewalks and running trails, but running from Canada takes a bit more preparation. Brustad said he contacted the base safety office to get started.  They directed him to a point-of-contact in the Department of Transportation.

“I emailed the route and days I would be running, and as long as I adhered to DOT rules I received the blessing,” said Brustad. “The Canadian part of the run was a little more complicated.”

He had to contact the embassy, register with the Aircraft and Personnel Automated Clearance Systems, and obtain a passport. He said they are simple tasks, but necessary to make his run possible.

He scouted his run on June 5th when he participated in the Royal Canadian Air Force 10-kilometer run. He wore a 54 kilogram backpack to honor the 54 Canadian veteran suicides. His pack was giving him some trouble until someone gave him a strap to help adjust the pack.

“Another service member, from a different country, saw someone in need, saw someone that needed help. When that strap was added to my pack, it didn’t get any lighter, but it helped a veteran in need,” said Brustad. “This American Airman running in Canada got the best support and help from Canadian Airmen. I can’t put the feeling into words on what it meant, but for what it is, that is what brought everything together.”

Being a wing executive has helped Brustad develop the skills need to coordinate his run.

“I was honored to be selected to work here at the wing. Working here you have the opportunity to see the ‘bigger picture’ and you understand why attention to detail is so important,” said Brustad. “Coordinating this run, I had to stay on top of any changes and updates and also make sure nothing interfered with my day-to-day duties, which is why the ‘You are only as current as your last phone call’ axiom is so important.”

As he makes his way back to Grand Forks AFB June 30, 2016, it is important to remember all the preparation that went into making his feat possible, but Brustad wants you to remember the inspiration for his run.

“I’m at the end of this journey for our veterans and PTSD awareness. Some days were better, some days were worse. Up at 3 a.m. to run, then put in a full day’s work. Rain, wind, a little bit of heat, I pushed through it. It is nowhere in comparison to what our veterans are struggling with daily, whether it be physical, emotional or spiritual,” said Brustad. “I hope this run generated more awareness for our veterans and I challenge others out there to do the same. I know not everyone can run, but I ask you; what will you do for our vets?”