Auburn veterans association, University of Alabama veterans association teaming up to raise awareness for high veteran suicide rate
The Auburn Student Veterans Association and Alabama’s Campus Veterans Association are uniting as one to raise awareness for the 22 veterans lost each day to suicide by marching from Auburn to Tuscaloosa for the Iron Bowl.
The 150-mile Iron Bowl Ruck March, which will begin at Jordan Hare Stadium in Auburn on November 21 and conclude at Bryant Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa on November 24, will take approximately 70 hours to complete.
A total of 32 people have currently signed up to participate in the march with nine supporters helping to drive vehicles and provide logistical support.
Participants will carry a 22-pound ruck-sack to coincide with the Mission 22 suicide campaign. The packed ruck will consist of toiletries, undergarments and other items collected by the Student Veteran’s organizations and will be donated to the Bill Nichols State Veterans Home in Alexander City, Alabama.
“As a Mission 22 Ambassador, I always try to push the message that one veteran lost to suicide is too many; but 22 is just astonishingly far too many and we desperately need to save our brothers and sisters,” said Kyle Venable, president of the Student Veterans Association at Auburn University. “Being so dear to my heart, the first idea I thought of was marching with 22-pound rucksacks.”
After an opening ceremony at Jordan Hare Stadium at 8 a.m. on November 21, participants will begin their journey through Notasulga, Tallassee and Wetumpka. They will also venture near Prattville before heading north for Tuscaloosa.
Seeing that the march is occurring during Thanksgiving, participants and organizers plan to stop for a two-hour break on Thursday for a Thanksgiving lunch.
Many participants and organizers foresee this march becoming an annual event while building awareness and friendships.
“This ruck march will not only build the camaraderie of the student veterans from both schools, but it will also bring awareness of Mission 22 to the area and let those who are struggling know we are here,” said Kody Pemberton, Campus Veterans Association President at the University of Alabama. “I look forward to the hike as I hope it continues on as a tradition for years to come.”
Organizers of the march plan to pass around and carry an “Iron Bowl Game Ball” between stadiums. Upon the completion of the march, the Alabama Marines Foundation will have a welcome party near Clara Verner Tower.
Organizers are saying they hope to be able to march inside of the stadium to deliver the “Iron Bowl Game Ball” to game officials prior to kickoff.
Kyle Morris also contributes daily to Breitbart News and can be followed on Twitter @RealKyleMorris