Hundreds will fill Dallas’ Reverchon Park this weekend to mark the true meaning of Memorial Day.
Carry the Load honors the sacrifice of military veterans, first responders and their families.
One of the participants says it saved her life.
When you meet Corena Mitchell today you’re introduced to a purpose-driven military veteran.
But she will be the first to tell you she has come a long way.
Mitchell joined the Army out of high school. She was deployed to Iraq where her assignment was writing up killed in action reports.
“First report was on someone I knew,” Mitchell said.
Hundreds more would follow.
Fast forward to 2012 and Mitchell, now a mother and back home had undiagnosed PTSD and was struggling to transition into life after the armed services.
“I became depressed and sad and I didn’t have any value anymore,” Mitchell said. “I felt that everyone would be better off without me here.”
Mitchell says the first moment of change came that same year when she saw a report on the news of a man carrying a U.S. flag from West Point, New York to Dallas, Texas.
“When you look in his eye, you know he has seen some stuff,” Mitchell said.
That person carrying the flag was one of the original organizers of Carry the Load.
She wouldn’t meet Coleman Ruiz until years later but Mitchell says her first Carry the Load moment – gave her the spark to seek out another Dallas nonprofit focused on job readiness and self-esteem tailored to women.
Mitchell, once a client of Attitudes and Attire now heads up its “Boots to Heels” program which is tailored to helping women in the military community.
All of it she says started with Carry the Load.
“Coleman, he carried me until I was able to carry myself.”
Her story is part of a documentary premiering this Memorial Day. She hopes the film and her story inspire other women and anyone who feels alone to know they are not.
“It was the first time I realized that the things I was feeling, I wasn’t the only one,” Mitchell said. “I wasn’t going through it alone.”