By Edna Clark
This is the creed of Larry Hinkle, a native born Texan and disabled United States Marine, who is on a cross-country mission to help and bring awareness of the needs of military veterans, active duty personnel, and their families, as well as First Responders.
After being hurt while on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan, Larry found that he was faced with the same problems many injured veterans encounter. He could not get the necessary medical care to treat his battered body, mind, and soul.
Because of the unnecessary backlog of veterans seeking assistance from the Veterans Administration (VA), Larry paid for two surgeries himself. It took him over 9 years to finally get the physical help that he needed. His Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) were initially treated with psychotropic medications that as Larry described it, “left him in a fog.”
Excessive anger, night terrors, and fear plagued him and basically controlled his life. Following 5 corrective surgeries, Larry functioned in his job in corporate America, but felt he had no real life. He stopped the medications and found an inner strength to work through his emotional issue; however, Larry knew there were many, many more veterans who were not being reached. He went to four funerals of men with whom he had served. These Marines took their own lives because they could not fight the issues inside themselves any longer.
If our readers can remember, this year the Run for the Wall 2016 participants focused on The 22. This referred to the fact that every day, an average of 22 active duty and veteran military members commit suicide. Those veterans wanted to bring this startling fact to the public’s attention.
Thus, with the issues affecting our nation’s military and First Responders, Larry Hinkle created Phase Line Organization in May, 2015, a tax deductible, non-profit organization. The organization is funded by individuals and companies that want to help the ones who give a portion of or all of their lives to serving the people of the United States.
To create more awareness of the plight of the men and women who serve us, Larry has embarked on his journey, called THE HUMP, across our great land. He drives a pickup and hauls a travel trailer for his accommodations to accomplish his goal of “serving veterans coast to coast, one step at a time. ” The Hump which was started on April 3, in memory of 1SG Smith will cover 2640 miles in 6 months for that one purpose.
Very little of the money that is donated to Phase Line is used for personal use. That money is given to veterans and First Responders who are in need. Along the way from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina to Camp Pendleton, California, Larry has encountered people who needed help with repairing homes, making house payments, and buying food, clothing, shoes, and school supplies.
He has helped many people through serving them and has found his service to be a therapeutic, healing solace for himself. This is what he was looking for when he stopped taking the medications which did nothing to ease and comfort his inner being.
Along the road, Larry says that he has met many First Responders and veterans who share their time and stories with him. When possible, visits into VA hospitals, nursing homes, VFW buildings, sheriff and police departments, and EMS buildings take up most of Larry’s days. When in different communities, he walks an average of 35 miles during his stay. This way, he is able to meet the local people and see the surrounding areas. His walks here were around town and up Hwy 54 and down Hwy 90. When this journey is over, Larry plans on spending more time in our beautiful area.
Here, in Van Horn, Army veteran, Deputy Sheriff Albert (Kiki) Urias, and other First Responders met with Larry for a Freedom Friday lunch which was paid for through Phase Line. Freedom Friday is a meal that Phase Line pays for to show thanks and appreciation to those who serve our country.
In addition to the daily needs of the veterans, Phase Line is geared to making our legislators aware of the plight of those who are serving and have served our country. Hinkle is gathering data along his route to present to Congress in 2017 after THE HUMP is completed. His desire is to have the VA reworked to better care for our military service men and women.
Additionally, Larry is planning to appeal to our government for better provisions and equipment for active duty personnel who are currently giving up their lives to protect the people of the United States. That can only happen when our legislators take care of the people who put them in their positions in the first place.
Of course, none of the costs of Phase Line, THE HUMP, or Freedom Friday is cheap. Currently, funding is from individuals and companies contributing to the Buy a Mile Campaign, Go Fund Me, Vet-Togethers, and sales of THE HUMP t-shirts that are available on-line.
More information can be found on Face Book, You Tube videos, or at www.phaseline.org and www.thehump.org/.
Larry Hinkle invited everyone to check him and Phase Line Organization out, which, by the way, this writer did before my interview. He encourages anyone, whether it is active duty or veteran military personnel, First Responders, and even military families, in need to contact him for help. The Van Horn Advocate has Larry’s phone number for urgent needs.