In many cities across America you might see a group of people ruck marching as part of the Carry The Fallen event that is growing into a huge movement. Many veterans, families and supporters carry weight on their backs with the thought that even one veteran suicide is too many, much less the average of 22 Veterans who commit suicide every day according to a Veterans Administration study conducted in 2012.
“This is the kind of stuff I’m drawn to, individual efforts leading to a collective action that bring about change, no matter how big or small,” said Staff Sgt. Elle Milo. “This is what we did today. We did not forget our veterans and the fallen. We care about the issues of PTSD and veteran suicide epidemic, and we did something about it. We helped make a difference in raising awareness about this, as well as in raising funds for Active Heroes.”
The Carry the Fallen is a National event that was created by Active Heroes, a 501c3 charity who has a plan to reduce veteran suicide by building a Military family retreat in Shepherdsville, KY. The hope is to raise $4 Million to finish the retreat’s welcome center, bathrooms, activities and program buildings. So far the group has raised $277,000 of that goal with 3 events held across America. The ruck events help raise money through sponsorship of the participants and awareness by conducting the events in public places while carrying an American Flag.
The benefit of these Carry the Fallen events are widely seen in many cities. Hundreds of veterans have come forward to tell their story of a fallen brother or sister in arms who have taken their own lives.
“As a paratrooper, that isn’t an abstract category of people I have to be convinced to care about,” said Staff Sgt. Jay Huwieler, who serves with B Company, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion of the 82nd Airborne Division at Ft. Bragg. “We are talking about my friends, and the troopers I work with everyday.”
Huwieler, who made the trip from Ft. Bragg for the 12-hour ruck, said these types of events help bridge the gap between civilian and military worlds.
“Most Soldiers have been thanked in an airport for our service,” Huwieler said. “However, participating in Carry The Fallen is an entirely different proposition. These are civilians who actually dedicated their whole Saturday to rucking nearly a marathon distance and canvassed the community to raise awareness and hand out cards and flyers.
“That’s a whole other level of commitment to the troops,” Huwieler said. “It feels like we’re building better Americans, one ruck at a time.”
As one team rucked around Raleigh, NC they took the opportunity to talk with anyone who would listen, rucking through public areas like the Raleigh Farmers Market and the Flea Market at the State Fair Grounds.
“We certainly caught some people’s attention rucking with our weighted rucks on and the American flag flying high,” Milo said. “It was awesome to see a Marine veteran recognized right away what we were doing, came up to us, thanked us, shook our hands, and hugged us.”
By the end of the day the group was tired and hungry, sore and sun burnt, but for the ruckers, it was worth the effort.
“If we get even one more veteran the help, the care and treatment that he or she needs,” Huwieler said, “ then every footstep on the march, every flyer handed out, every pound carried was worth it.”
Join or create a Carry the Fallen team and get rucking at: www.CarryTheFallen.org