It will take 72 hours for the more than 150-mile long ruck march to be completed
On Wednesday, students from Alabama joined a 150-mile march that took them from Tuscaloosa through Auburn in an effort to raise awareness about the 17 suicides of veterans.
The fourth annual Operation Iron Ruck, which includes students from Auburn University and the University of Alabama, began Wednesday outside Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. It will end Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium Auburn just before rival football teams meet in the Iron Bowl.
The 72-hour march is made up of marchers from both schools. Most carry a 17-pound rucksack that contains donated items. These will be given to charities that benefit Alabama veterans.
The effort is being led by Clay Buchanan, President of Auburn University Student Affairs Association, and President Slade Salmon of the University of Alabama Veterans Association.
Salmon explained to Fox News that the march lasted three days and had two objectives. One was to raise awareness about veteran suicide and the second was to raise donations for veteran charities.
Salmon stated that the event was “a way for me to remember the 17 veterans who have died every day from suicide”, and added that he uses it to connect with his former colleagues.
Salmon stated that while I am not an expert at keeping in touch with many of the people who served with me, I try my best to make contact with them whenever I can. Veteran suicide is often caused by isolation. It could save a life by reaching out to veterans who served with you.
Operation Iron Ruck partnered recently with Alabama’s challenge to prevent suicide among service members, veterans, and their families.
Buchanan stated that many veterans, including myself, know someone who has committed suicide. It truly shows that the veteran community, through Operation Iron Ruck as well as the collaboration of student veterans from Auburn and Alabama, is committed to taking care of our brothers & sisters until 17 becomes zero.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, Alabama Governor, has expressed support for march organizers, saying, “It’s imperative that we as a nation never forget to offer support to our brave men and women who served our country in military service.”
Ivey stated that we must place a greater emphasis on veteran suicide prevention and supporting them after they return home. This is why I am so proud to see the efforts of student veterans who embarked on Operation Iron Ruck. We owe our military veterans a debt for their sacrifices to protect our freedoms. Alabama will stand by our veterans forever.”