Corvallis woman working to help veterans reconnect with civilian - KPTV - FOX 12

Corvallis woman working to help veterans reconnect with civilian life

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Corvallis local Crystal Purdy Corvallis local Crystal Purdy
CORVALLIS, OR (KPTV) -

Crystal Purdy began running races in 2013 by signing up for a 5k, but the Corvallis woman has come a long way since then.

Racing allowed her to connect with numerous veterans' organizations within the community, and now Purdy serves on the board of Operation Enduring Warrior, the Portland chapter of Team Red, White and Blue, as well as the Oregon Fallen Badge Foundation.

Through her work, she's met service men and women who, because of their experiences, have struggled to connect with civilians, something she learned even applied to her own family.

"My grandfather is a World War II veteran, but he never talked about it,” Purdy explained. “I never actually knew he was a veteran until we had his funeral several years ago."

It is not uncommon for veterans who suffer traumatic experiences in battle to close themselves off from others, but that can leave them vulnerable.

"There's a lot of alcohol abuse. There is a lot of narcotic abuse,” Purdy said. "And then of course, veteran suicide."

She said that helping these veterans reconnect is a cause that is near and dear to her heart.

"In 2010 I married a veteran,” Purdy said. “That ended up going in a different direction than we both originally wanted."

Although her marriage didn't last, it did open her eyes to some of the struggles veterans face each day.

"That played a huge part in it in wanting to make a difference in the veteran community and make sure that I can do everything I can to make the pain go away," she said.

Purdy is able to do this through the Portland homeless veteran burial program she leads. It's a network of veterans who attend funerals for homeless vets who might otherwise be buried without a proper military ceremony.

"We're providing this amazing sendoff for this hero, but what can we do for our veterans before we get to this point?" she said.

That's where she says Lines for Life comes in. The local non-profit is dedicated to preventing substance abuse and suicide, through its military help line and suicide prevention hotline.

"God bless the Lines for Life folks for handling that kind of stuff. They're available to take those calls,” Purdy said. “I deal with grief all the time and I don't have the super power to talk somebody off the ledge."

FOX 12 is helping to raise money to benefit Lines for Life. To make a donation to help give a voice for veterans, visit KPTV.com/Voice or simply text "LINES" to 444999.

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