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Minnesota National Guard
Soldiers, Vets and Their Brothers 'Ruck Up' to Raise Awareness of Suicides

Ruck Up On the cold morning of November 15, as the sun began to rise and most people were warm in bed, 11 hearty Minnesotans prepared their ruck sacks for a 23-mile march to raise awareness in the Rochester community for veteran suicide

Ruck Up for Life was created by Landon Steele, a former Army Medic familiar with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and life after deployment, in order to raise awareness for veteran suicide

Roderic Haworth and Nick Lane, Soldiers assigned to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry Regiment in Rochester, Minn, were not able to participate in Steele's Minneapolis Ruck Up for Life last October, so they created one of their own Lane created a facebook page and in two weeks, more than 40 people signed up for Ruck Up for Rochester

"It was very encouraging to see that current and prior Service members and civilians were interested in coming to this event," said Lane "The cold and onset of tough weather kept many indoors, but we were grateful for those that did show up"

"It could have been colder, but we would have done this anyway," said Haworth "We had many cars pull up and ask us what we were doing and how they could contribute"

According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, 23 veterans commit suicide each day More Soldiers died in the US military in 2012 of suicide than in combat in Afghanistan To Haworth, these numbers are staggering

While Ruck Up for Life remains Steele's idea, Haworth and Lane still wanted to do what they could "My thought in regard to this topic is that we can sit there and shake our heads and wait until next year when there's another Ruck Up for Life, or we can do one on our own," said Haworth

While this issue is being addressed at much higher echelons of the military, the guys in Rochester are thinking nationally but acting locally There are plans to organize another event in the spring As Soldiers who have known other Soldiers who have committed suicide, the topic is close to home for them, and so many others in the military and civilian world, said Haworth

"This issue does not only affect us in the military At this point, I think most people know of someone either directly or indirectly - a friend at work or family member of someone at church - that has been touched by a suicide The point of raising awareness is not to make people behavioral health specialists, it's to ensure that if they ever get that phone call at three in the morning, they need to take it seriously and know who to call 1-800-273-TALK is a place that veterans can get great assistance from," said Haworth

"We'll keep doing Ruck Up events until the number is zero if we can It's the least we can do for those that have done so much for us," said Lane

June 19, 2013
by Sgt. 1st Class Roderic Haworth
2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry

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