Warriors Ruck 17 Miles to Honor Veterans Lost by Suicide
For many people, 17 is just a number. But for those in the military community, it’s representative of something much more palpable and problematic — the number of veterans who die by suicide each day.
To honor these fallen veterans and raise awareness of suicide prevention and mental health care, a group of wounded warriors recently hiked 17 miles in five days. The warriors participated in the hike as part of a Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) mental health workshop called Project Odyssey®.
“Our first goal always is to honor and empower wounded warriors, but second is honoring those who are not here today,” said Tom Chimenti, one of the WWP staff members who organized the workshop.
About a dozen warriors participated in the workshop in the Pittsburgh area during the week of Veterans Day. In addition to the hike, the warriors completed various mental health education exercises, such as journaling, and camped in tents each night to develop additional coping skills and practice gratitude.
“We want warriors to know that invisible wounds are not a life sentence,” Tom added. “Treatment works, and it shows strength to seek care and ask for help.”
Years before attending this workshop, Marine Corps veteran Jack Frawley first asked for help after struggling to escape his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When he returned home from heavy combat in Iraq, he self-medicated to get to sleep and stay asleep so he could avoid nightmares and flashbacks of war. He even spent two weeks living on the 6 Train in New York City, hiding from his friends and family.
The connection he formed with other warriors through WWP allows Jack to successfully manage his PTSD. That’s why Jack wants to do everything he can to help his fellow warriors with PTSD return home safely and live long, meaningful lives – even if that means pushing himself to ruck 17 miles on the trails.
“I want to be there for them because 17 is just too many,” Jack said. “I hope that we can get that number as close to zero as possible because one is one too many. There’s so much to live for, and it’s just not worth it.”
Nearly a third (30%) of WWP warriors reported having thoughts related to suicide in the past two weeks, according to a 2020 WWP survey of the wounded warriors it serves. WWP mental health programs like Project Odyssey equip warriors with tools to help them manage and overcome their PTSD, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and other invisible wounds to live productive and fulfilling lives.
Learn more about Project Odyssey here.
Contact: Jon Blauvelt — Public Relations, firstname.lastname@example.org, 904.426.9756
About Wounded Warrior Project
Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers — helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more.