The Farmer's Wife: Veterans walking for veterans


As I was discussing the weather last week, as in COLD, and WINDY, I came across a news article that said the annual Things We Carry Ruck March between UNL student veterans and those of the University of Iowa had started at 6 AM on Wednesday, the 16th, at Memorial Stadium.

The group plans to be at the Freedom Rock in Menlo, Iowa, on Sunday, the 20th.. There, Hawkeye student vets will take over. They are carrying the game ball for the game on Black Friday.

Why a Ruck March, I wondered. I think I had actually heard or read of something like this before. This time, I followed up. By the late afternoon, there were photos online of the Eagle Fire and Rescue guys escorting the marchers through their town, in color! It was definitely goosebumply.  

It seems a ruck is a move from point to point while carrying your gear in a backpack. I've read that in typical Army fashion, the gear weighs close to forty pounds.  I can't imagine walking very far with that much weight on my back.  

Actually, the students are carrying twenty pounds, which is a great plenty, I'm sure. Why twenty? In memory of the TWENTY veterans who commit suicide EVERY DAY!! How can that be? And why is it happening? And what are we doing about it?  

As I researched online, I did find some encouraging statistics; each year, it seems, these numbers go down, but only in small increments. Also, supposedly, the VA has had much time and money expended towards decreasing these deaths. But, for instance, on one site, a comment said, “I called regarding my depression, and could not get an appointment for two months.” Folks, that's not nearly good enough. 

I have a close relative who states there is a lot of self medicating going on, especially with  alcohol. I have family experience with that kind of behavior. It doesn't work, and only makes things worse.  (My father treated his depression with vodka.)  

This space is not nearly big enough, nor am I expert enough, to extemporize regarding solutions. I merely challenge you, the reader, to be aware of this activity, and to think about those student veterans walking those chilly miles in an effort to bring attention to the statistics and hopefully, to encourage more efforts to combat them. There are many things more important than football!  May your Thanksgiving be full of gratitude!



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