Over the weekend, Carry The Fallen- Team Louisville conducted their biggest annual ruck march relay. The event began Thursday just outside Fort Campbell, at the Oak Grove Memorial Walking Trail Park, and continued until Sunday ending at the Kentucky Veterans Cemetery. During this activity, participants carried as much weight as they could. This weight symbolizes the many burdens veterans, service members and military families face when struggling with PTSD and returning to civilian life.
“It’s sad to know that 22 veterans a day commit suicide, and that calculates to over 8000 a year. The way the military is going, you are a service member for life now, and we have to really treat it as such. It’s organizations like Active Heroes that put the spotlight on veteran suicide,” said Sergeant First Class Paul J. Smith. Sergeant First Class Smith is with the Human Resources command at Fort Knox, Ky., and has participated in four separate Carry The Fallen events.
There were over 100 participants in this Ft. Campbell to Ft. Knox ruck march relay. Approximately 138 miles were covered, and over $13,500 was raised to help end veteran suicide. Active Heroes believes that through active challenges, such as the Carry The Fallen ruck marches, they can help build camaraderie, wellness, morale and connect veterans and military families with supporters and peer mentors.
“The idea behind this is suicide awareness,” stated Shirley Johnson, retired U.S. Army. “Making people aware when adversities overcome them, their life skills and coping skills may not be 100 percent, that there is someone out there. This is what it’s all about. We are the ones that are out there showing that we care. If someone needs help, there are people like us out in the community, Active Heroes, ready and waiting to make a connection with that individual.” Mr. Johnson is currently the suicide prevention program manager for Ft. Knox.
“Through activities like Carry The Fallen veterans can establish relationships with other veterans, ambassadors and peer mentors. We believe networking like this is what really makes the difference when connecting with a veteran, and this is one of our main missions in the fight to eliminate veteran suicide,” said Haley Warwick, project manager for this event. “This relay is a perfect example of how strangers can come together and through overcoming an endeavor, become family. It was an honor to be out on the road leading the way with these heroes. Together we all had a part in making it 138 miles.”
Active Heroes is always looking for new participants, ambassadors and peer mentors to assist in the fight to end veteran suicide. To participate in Active Heroes next Active Challenge click here.