Ed McClelland of Operation Creekside had an epiphany years ago. 

“I got sober in 2006 and my beautiful wife left me in 2008. I needed something to do besides kill myself or go back to drinking, and I thought about how our military has always been out there protecting freedom of those like me, who took it for granted.  I have seven uncles that served--one lost on Okinawa June 17 1945. I decided to support our military.”

At first, Ed started to put together care packages for servicemen and women, carefully including a scripture verse with each box of goodies. He soon realized that God had additional plans for Ed. 

A group of people are praying for care packages and laying hands on them
[Photo Credit: Ed McClelland] Friends, including a 100-year-old veteran, lay hands on care packages and pray for the service men and women who will receive them

“It was crazy at first. I was obsessed with the care packs and to this day will do anything to get them shipped. While I was going through some serious life issues, God was building a powerful ministry. I am the outreach guy and the chaplain. I’m on call 24/7. We could easily be the top dog in care packs, but our mission is so much more because of God's faithfulness to use even a drunk like me to do His will and His work!”

Ed McClelland says it’s important to reach out and connect to the families who are left mourning the loss of their loved one.

“From that first care pack to the 25- year-old US Marine that I met recently, God has placed me in the right place at the right time on many occasions. I love the families of the ‘22’ (Ed’s referring to the average of 22 veterans who commit suicide every day). 

man holding a picture of a fallen service man
[Photo Credit: Ed McClelland] Ed McClelland holding a picture of Pvt. Joshua Thompson, lost to PSTD

In September I sat on a bench in memory of Joshua Thompson in Rock Springs Wyoming with his mom April, and with my prayer box in between us. I said "April, put your prayers in here for God to read." As she did, she also told me about her recent diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis. These people are my family.”

Ed McClelland is always eager and ready to help veteran meet their basic needs.

Whether is Army veteran Michael, who is homeless after losing everything in the Northern California Camp Fire (Ed is helping him to get his truck fixed), or Brandon, an Air Force veteran whose served three combat deployments and can’t afford to register his vehicle. It’s the little things that can become overwhelming and Ed is the first one to rally to helps solve those problems. 

The holidays can be especially difficult for military families and Ed makes sure to remember as many people as he can.  

“We also usually shop for about ten military families for Christmas too.” 

In addition to all that he does, Ed McClelland partners with other ministries and happens to be the chaplain for 22TooMany, an organization to helps families who’ve lost loved ones to suicide. He’s quick to give out their website too, www.22toomany.com

metal bench with Operation Creekside and 22 Too Many and American Flag carved out of bench
[Photo Credit: Ed McClelland] Metal Bench dedicated to those affected by PTSD

If you'd like to LISTEN to Monika Kelly's conversation with Ed McClelland, you can do it here: