22 for 22: Veteran plans ruck to spread PTSD awareness
FLORENCE, S.C. — Suicide among U.S. military veterans and active duty troops is a problem that Shawn Laurie wants to shine a light on. In fact, he’s taking a step, or two, in that direction.
“I do a lot around the community,” said Laurie, who advocates around Florence on veterans issues . “I bring people to my (Facebook) page. I speak about awareness. I’m a spokesperson for the VFW. But what am I really doing? Am I making a difference in my own city?”
A VA study in 2012 reported that up to 22 veterans and active duty military members commit suicide daily.
“I thought about a 10K run,” Laurie said. “My buddies and I were thinking, do 22 for 22, but doing 22 miles would take forever. I don’t know anybody who can go 22 miles. I thought, maybe 22K, 13 miles.”
And that would be a “ruck,” he said. Twenty-two kilometers with a pack of some description.
“You have to show up with something,” Laurie said. “Doesn’t have to be a rucksack. It could be a book bag, a gymbag — you have to have something on your back. Participants could make their packs as light or heavy as they wanted.”
Laurie said plans are still in the preliminary phase, but one possible route would be from the Florence Veterans Park at the Florence Center to the VFW near Florence Regional Airport.
Once there, Laurie said he would like to have speakers talk about PTSD and other veterans issues and follow that up with music, food and drink.
“It’s all about veterans helping veterans,” he said.
“How can you be deployed five times and end your life at home? Just because you’re struggling with depression, anxiety and all this stuff, it doesn’t make you a weak person. It makes you a stronger person, because you’re willing to admit you have a problem and get help for it.”
Laurie said the event is scheduled for April 6.
He is looking for help organizing it and needs to work out the route and how to get hikers back to their cars. He also needs to find sponsors for the event.
He can be contacted through VetLife4Life’s Facebook page.