Next year, we hope the Hooah Rucksack Walk is considerably shorter than it was this year, not for our aching feet, but because the distance represents the number of veterans who commit suicide every day in this country.
This year’s walk was 22 miles long. That 22 veterans take their lives every single day is overwhelmingly sad, but, support is building step by step.
My friend Rich Roehrick, a retired Marine who served in Afghanistan, recently launched a program designed to help veterans . Rebuild Veterans provides educational, fitness and recreational programs to veterans in an effort to treat post traumatic stress disorders and to reduce the number of suicides among veterans.
This short video helps explain what Rich is working to accomplish and how you can help.
Vince and I were honored to be members of Team Rebuild on the rucksack walk, which raised $70,000 for HOOAH (Helping out our American Heroes). The money will be used by HOOAH’s Green Bay chapter, which provides a broad range of assistance to local veterans and their families.
The walk took place on Veteran’s Day and, as we made our way past the Brown County Veteran’s Memorial, a veteran, wearing his dress uniform, stood at attention. Tears rolled down his face and he shook hands with walkers as they passed.
I thanked him for his service and asked if I could take his picture. He nodded and swiped his cheek with the back of his right hand. But, the tears kept rolling down.
I thought of him and all the other people I know that have served and continue to serve in the U.S. military, which is all volunteer and the strongest in the world.
We’ve been celebrating Veteran’s Day for nearly 100 years and its significance rightfully has grown. But, it’s critical that, in addition to providing our service men and women with parades and free meals, we also offer specific support.
That’s why we’re very happy to support both HOOAH and Rebuild Veterans and, with their help, we hope next year’s rucksack walk will be just a short stroll.