Carry the Fallen Ruck March to Raise Awareness of Veteran Suicide
Green Bay, WI -- Mark Bonovetz and Mike Meyer are training for a ruck march.
"Grueling is a good word for it," chuckles Meyer.
They're rallying dozens of people to put on a 45 pound backpack and walk 12 hours straight through the Green Bay area.
"28 miles on foot. I don't think there's people that drive 28 miles in their car during the course of the day," said Bonovetz.
It's all to raise awareness of post traumatic stress disorder in veterans which can lead to suicide.
"22 veterans a day on average commit suicide which is 22 too many," Bonovetz explains.
Meyer adds, "I lost my cousin to PTSD."
Meyer will bring a picture of his cousin, Daniel Amerson, on the Carry the Fallen ruck march. Bonovetz will have a photo of 25-year-old Jeremy Pearson of De Pere who also recently died by suicide.
"He was always laughing and always happy. You would never guess that he was depressed," said Kayley French.
After the tragic loss of French's boyfriend, she helped organize the Jeremy Pearson Memorial Silent Auction which will be held during the ruck march.
"Hopefully by doing this I can just save one person's life or change one family's life, so they don't have to feel the grief, the pain, the hurt I feel everyday," she explained.
The proceeds will go to the non-profit organization Active Heroes to help build a free retreat for veterans and their families in Sheperdsville, Kentucky.
"It's designed to help the healing process, to bring closure to a lot of things these soldiers, these brave men and women saw when they were overseas," said Bonovetz.
It will inspire those on the ruck march to go the distance.
Meyer says, "You just kind of prepare yourself for it. You embrace it."
Bonovetz adds, "It's fun. We build camaraderie. We bring people together. We talk."
It's an exhausting hike, but it's all worth it to these veterans and veteran supporters to raise awareness and hopefully save struggling soldiers.
The ruck march will step off this Saturday, June 21st at 6:00am from Veteran's Memorial Park in Green Bay. The Jeremy Pearson Memorial Silent Auction will be held from 1-7pm at Re-Play Sports Bar and Grill at 1731 Fort Howard Avenue in De Pere.
Here is a schedule provided by organizers. The public is welcome to join at any time.