OWEGO (WBNG) – More than 120 people turned out for the second annual Ruck For Them 5K walk on Saturday at Hickories Park in Owego.
The Tioga County Veterans Services Agency said attendees were asked to bring a backpack and fill it with 22 pounds of weight to represent the 22 veterans who commit suicide every day.
“We’re starting out small, but who knows, over the next couple of years hopefully we’ll fill in these fields with people who are here for the cause,” said organizer Michael Middaugh.
Veterans say it was great to see the community come and support the cause while enjoying live music, a barbecue and 5K.
“To see people go out, to see members, to see members of other associations, to see the community, to members of families who have lost their veterans by suicide is a good thing,” said Brian Pittarelli, member of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association. “The more we talk about it, the more people know, the less it should happen.”
Residents who came for the event say it’s important to give back to veterans who gave their all to serve their country.
“The numbers just keep adding up and it’s unfortunate there should be more people aware of all the help they can get to avoid succumbing to these demons,” said the VFW Post commander. 81-04 to Waverly Will Chaffee.
A link to the Tioga County Veterans Services Agency Facebook page is available here with a number of resources for veterans struggling with mental health issues.