“Ruckup22” draws live and virtual marchers to raise awareness for service member suicides
The “weather gods” cooperated on Saturday morning, September 17, as 32 marchers participated in Lake County Veterans and Family Services Foundation’s “Ruckup22”, a 22-kilometer march to raise awareness about the tragedy of service member suicides. These “live” marchers were joined by 71 virtual marchers who completed the 22 kilometers on their own time and at their own place.
“We were thrilled that so many came out to support “Ruckup22”,” said Paul Baffico, Lake County Veterans and Family Services Foundation’s founder and president. “In addition to our foundation’s staff members, “Ruckup22” had the support of the Lake County Health Department, local police, fire, and EMTs, as well as companies that include Rust-Oleum and AbbVie. We couldn’t have held the march without their great support. Thanks also to Daisy’s Artish Café and to Daisy and Carlos Perez for providing the starting and finishing point.”
The event was also well-represented by members of the 19th Judicial Circuit Veteran Treatment and Assistance Court as well as the Homeless Walk-in Center, HUD-VASH, and Suicide Prevention teams at the Lovell Federal Health Care Center.
“Ruckup22” is scheduled in September because it is Suicide Prevention Month. The march is the foundation’s way of saying that 22 service member suicides a day is unacceptable. In addition to the awareness that the event generates, “Ruckup22” also raises funds to keep the foundation operating so that it can care for service members and their loved ones.
The Foundation’s Veteran Peer Specialists provide this care by listening and helping service members connect with the resources and benefits that they earned and deserve. The foundation’s Drop-In Center in Grayslake provides a comfortable, confidential place to meet.
The foundation believes that suicide is a choice, not a certainty. The sooner that a service member talks to another service member and asks for help, the sooner that suicide can no longer seem like an option.
“Thanks to all who participated and contributed to this year’s Ruck March,” Baffico concluded. “Every marcher sends a message that we want to keep sending.”