In 2004, Col. Jack Mosher returned home from Afghanistan with two Bronze Stars.

“It was a great mission,” said Mosher. “I was surrounded by great soldiers.”

Before the shine had a chance to wear off the medals, the decorated soldier was struggling to regroup and adjust to his new life. One night as the single dad watched his sons sleeping in his parents’ home, he asked himself, ‘What are you going to do now, Ranger?’

“It was a defining moment,” said Mosher, who holds master’s degrees in education and strategic studies.

“Soldiers don’t leave fellow soldiers behind on the battlefield,” said Mosher. “We shouldn’t leave them in their living rooms, either.”

And his comrades didn’t.

Lt. Col. Fran Casey rounded up Mosher and several other veterans who had recently returned from combat, ordered them into a van and took them to Togus VA Medical Center to register for their earned benefits.

It’s imperative, said Mosher, that soldiers overcome the stigma of seeking help. “She [Casey] was smart enough and persistent enough,” said Mosher. “If I had my way, I would not have gotten into the van. This was the first step to my recovery.”

Getting the help he needed, said Mosher, enabled him “to find a new reality. You don’t ignore [a physical ailment]. It just doesn’t get better. You deal with it.” The same, he said, goes for mental and emotional turmoil.

“The wilds of Afghanistan made sense to me,” he said. While “you don’t get medals or get famous for being a father,” Mosher said, he is a far richer man for packing school lunches, riding bikes and watching movies with his children. Selfless service to family, like selfless service to country, is rewarding.

“A drawer full of medals won’t buy you the missed soccer games or violin recitals,” he said.

The traits that enabled Mosher to achieve success as an Army officer weren’t necessarily useful to him as he strove to adjust to his new reality at home. “You can’t just suck it up and tough it out,” he said. “You have to reach out to others for help while [at the same time] digging in and being resilient. You can be a great warrior and go get help so you are strong for the people who are counting on you.”

Mosher said his family, his National Guard family and his friends were instrumental in helping him on his journey. “What I had to do personally [re-adjusting] was as hard as anything I have had to do in the military,” he said.

Mosher’s adjustment was buoyed when his friend, Iraq veteran Maj. Herbert J. “Jay” Brock, encouraged him to run.

The physical exercise, said Mosher, built his body and soothed his soul. The daily ritual was spiritual and meditative, almost like prayer. “I run in silence. I don’t have Lady Gaga playing in my ear,” he said.

“No matter what else was going on, I had my victory [run],” said Mosher. “It became a habit. It becomes a matter of building resiliency. I built up my ability to overcome adversity and did not allow myself to succumb to the darkness surrounding me at the time. I had to become strong again.”

Mission accomplished.

And Mosher knows that what worked for him can work for others.

After months of training, Mosher and Brock are ready to hit the road — together — to promote a message of hope and resiliency for veterans from Kittery to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, as well as everywhere in between and anywhere else that TV, radio, Facebook, Twitter and newspapers deliver it.

The One Life Resiliency Run kicks off Saturday, May 8.

Mosher and Brock will begin the team 21-marathons-in-21-days feat (to symbolize the honor of the 21-gun salute) in Kittery with friends from Mosher’s alma mater, Maine Central Institute, located in Pittsfield.

For the ensuing 21 days, Brock and Mosher will each log 13 miles a day — Brock will run the morning leg and Mosher will set the pace in the afternoon. In the event that either man becomes injured or ill, Maj. Scott Cadieux and Command Sgt. Maj. Victor Angry will step in as alternate runners.

En route, Mosher, who has logged 1,100 miles in the last year, expects to wear out three pair of $130 running shoes. To prepare for the challenge, Mosher has been consuming 4,500 calories a day, including 60 to 75 grams of protein.

In a typical day, Mosher said he has two steaks, four roast beef sandwiches, lots of good organic food, oranges, bananas, grapes, cashews, almonds, a big bowl of ice cream and a glass of wine.

Along the route, the war veterans will visit veterans at a number of centers and hospitals.

The goal is to complete the 550.2-mile ultra-run on Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.”Two healthy living people are going to honor those who gave everything,” said Mosher.

It’s no coincidence that the last leg begins at the World War II Memorial, constructed for the veterans of the “Greatest Generation.”

“The idea is to get up every day and run a marathon with your friend beside you. The value of friendship is very important. As military people and as a nation, we need to take personal responsibility for our spiritual, psychological, emotional and physical well-being.”

OneLifeWarrior is a multi-year campaign to foster resiliency in service members and citizens so it is possible, while fighting two wars and enduring economic hardship, to become the next Greatest Generation.

While some veterans, including those at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, strive to overcome significant physical obstacles and injuries, other veterans’ wounds aren’t as apparent. “They may not look wounded, but they are heartbroken. Their spirit is broken,” Mosher said. “They need to be rescued.”

Veterans hospitals provide excellent medical care, and Mosher implored all veterans to register for the treatment they deserve and to check out the Web site for valuable information and lists of available services.

Currently, Mosher said, fewer than half of all veterans register for the services they have earned. And each day in this country, on average, 18 veterans commit suicide.

Each person’s marathon, said Mosher, is different. It might be going to work, walking a mile, taking a class or being a friend to someone in need. It takes resiliency to complete marathons and overcome obstacles. And it all starts, said Mosher, with getting off the couch and getting to the proverbial starting line.

The walls of Mosher’s office at Camp Keyes are decorated with photographs of soldiers he served with in Afghanistan who died in the line of duty.

“They never got to live their lives to fruition,” he said. “How can we smoke and drink and squander the life we have? If we don’t make the most of our life, we are failing our moral obligation to them.”

To keep track of Mosher and Brock along the route, fans can visit as well as and