United States military veterans commit suicide at the astounding rate of 22 per day, perhaps even more. The majority is due to the effects of PTSD. If you’re a runner, here’s an easy way to raise awareness, and doesn’t involve fundraising(!).
1. Join the “22 too many” Facebook group. Basically, here’s how it works (but read the group instructions)
2. For your next marathon, or perhaps even a triathlon, you wear the picture (large on the back, and an optional smaller on your shoulder if you wish) of a military veteran who we’ve lost to PTSD.
3. You mail the medal from the race to the family of the veteran (that’s why I’m suggesting marathons or triathlons, but I suspect even a military-themed race with a challenge coin will work). Write a short note of gratitude/sympathy and that’s that.
3a. Apparently, there has been a lot of success with people telling volunteers at the end what they’re doing (the pictures help), and you can often get a second medal from a volunteer if you really want to keep the one from the race. I don’t intend to ask for a spare medal, but I completely get why folks would do so. It’s perfectly understandable.
(update: I ended up getting 2 medals at the MCM finish, because my Marine has a wife and living parents, so I didn’t want to have to decide what to do with a single one)
4. It’s a simple act, but the families are greatly appreciative. Some put the medals in shadow boxes, others keep them in a safe place.
5. Doing so continues to raise awareness of the plague our returning veterans face, and you don’t have to pester friends or co-workers to donate money.
I’ll be doing this both for the Marine Corps Marathon, and the Richmond Marathon. Connect with this group and run to honor those who we’ve lost not to enemy fire, but despair.