Kevin J. Klink - Life at Live Free Farm
By Barbara A. Preston l September 7, 2021
Montgomery Township’s Kevin J. Klink survived being blown up by an IED. He was on “a routine patrol” in Iraq on September 7, 2004, just a few weeks before he was scheduled to return home, when his Humvee hit an IED (improvised explosive device). The blast blew out windows and doors, and ejected Klink about 15 feet into the air— his unconscious body coming to a halt on the road.
“It plays like a movie in my head,” he says. Shrapnel damaged his left leg. He even had a hexagon image of a large bolt burned into his skin. “I have no residual scars now, “but, I received a traumatic brain injury.” “I have memory issues more than anything. And, daily tension headaches and migraines, which are getting better.”
Triangle of Death
Life was far from “routine” in Iraq’s “Triangle of Death.” News reporters who visited called it “one of the last places on earth you want to be if you’re an American in trouble.” The name, given during the 2003–2010 occupation of Iraq by United States and allied forces, applied to a region south of Baghdad. It saw major combat activity and sectarian violence from 2004 into the fall of 2007. Klink’s unit was assigned to guard what troops know as Main Supply Route Tampa, which has been the road followed by tens of thousands of military supply convoys moving from Kuwait into locations in Iraq.
Purple Heart Medal
“Within two or three weeks from the time we were injured, we actually got pinned with our purple hearts,” Klink said in an interview with The Montgomery News in August. “We were still in Baghdad. That specific Purple Heart I keep on display in my house,” he says.
Scars You Cannot See
In addition to his traumatic brain injury, Klink, 38, suffers from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After some therapy, he was able to serve as a police officer in South Bound Book. “I was always interested in law enforcement,” he said on Kevin Donaldson’s The Suffering Podcast in July. “I figured I could be a cool cop—a good guy. Some people I know who became cops were more like bullies. With society the way it is today, cops are looked at a certain way. I wanted to be the opposite of that. “With my experience of going through different countries, and being in combat, I felt I was humbled, and could really help people.” Klink served as a police officer in South Boundbook for 11 years. He was also a rifle and pistol instructor for the police department.
Recent newspaper headlines allude to an unfortunate set of circumstances. “South Bound Brook quietly pays $100,000 to settle former police officer’s discrimination suit, “declared a post on “Transparencynj. com” on April 26. The suit, Kevin J. Klink v. Borough of South Bound Brook, et al, Docket No. SOM-L-494-18, claimed that borough officials retaliated against Klink “for filing an internal affairs complaint against the police chief.” Klink became “somewhat frustrated about his performance on the shooting range,” according to the suit.
Former South Bound Book Police Chief William King allegedly told Klink that “if you put the gun in your mouth, you wouldn’t miss.” King reportedly knew Klink suffered from PTSD and that it was “well-known and well-established that individuals suffering from PTSD attempt and commit suicide at a rate that is far higher than the general population of the United States.” The suit also claimed King belittled Klink by calling him “Private Pyle” asking him “What kind of Marine are you?”
Article continues after ad from our sponsor.
From transparencynj.com: The settlement agreement contains a confidentiality clause, under which Klink agreed to “keep all aspects of the contents of his agreement, including its negotiation, confidential.” “This agreement is of the utmost concern to the borough and the borough would not have entered into this agreement without his promise to keep this agreement confidential.” Fortunately, however, these confidentiality clauses do not trump the public’s right to obtain copies of settlement agreements that arise out of lawsuits in which a government agency or official is a defendant.
For the record, The Montgomery News did not ask Klink about the lawsuit, nor did he comment on it. Klink said he had applied for the Somerset County SWAT, but was disqualified based on his PTSD diagnosis. He then received an early medical retirement from the South Bound Brook Police department. “April 30, 2017 was my last patrol shift. I haven’t cut my hair since,” he says with a laugh. “I never had long hair in my life. I was going to grow my beard too, but it become 14 inches long and was a crazy mess.”
A Time to Heal
Kink purchased a three-acre property on Spring Hill Road in Skillman in 2017 that had belonged to his grandparents, Donato and Mary Borrelli. His mother, Angela Borrelli, grew up there and graduated from Montgomery High School in 1973. “I used to visit my grandparents a lot,” he said. “I ran around this property as a kid. It was always a happy time.”
He opened his non-profit Live Free Farm animal sanctuary in 2020. Its mission is to rescue animals that are abused, neglected, displaced, or whose caregivers experienced heartbreaking hardships, and provide them with a safe, loving, and nurturing forever home. Another key vision of the sanctuary is to “facilitate programs for U.S. military veterans by promoting a positive, emotionally supportive safe haven, with comforting interactions and care taking opportunities with the residents of our sanctuary.” “I started it because of the emotional support and the connection I get from the animals,” he says. “My animals saved my life. I also want to help other veterans, especially those who suffered from PTSD.”
Klink purchased the neighboring property as well, expanding his sanctuary to almost six acres. So far, he has mostly pigs (24) on his farm. It seems people take pot-bellied pigs as pets when they are small and cute, but then they grow up and become huge. “They are also messy,” Klink adds. “They dig up the yard. That’s why I have so much mud. They even eat the grass.” He also has a few goats, a donkey, and five rescue dogs.
Becoming One’s Own Man
Klink was born and raised in nearby Flagtown. His father, Kim H. Klink, still lives in Flagtown with his mother. Kevin graduated from Hillsborough High School in 2000 and joined the U.S. Marine Corps at age 17. Klink says he enlisted because his father served in Vietnam and he “wanted to follow in those footsteps and serve my country.” “I also wasn’t big on school and didn’t want to go to college. I loved being outdoors and wanted to travel.” He completed two tours in Iraq as an 0311 Infantryman.
After EAS’ing and receiving an honorable discharge, he returned back home to New Jersey. Klink is now devoted to his sanctuary. He named it “Live Free,” because he says he is at a point in this life that he wants to enjoy his freedom. He grew his hair, got tattoos, and is pursuing his dream creating a safe haven for animals and helping others. Of course, with five dogs, 24 pigs, a few goats, and donkey, he better not stray very far from home.
Visit www.livefreefarm.org to learn more.