Friday, 20 October 2017 19:21

Group hikes 22 miles for each veteran lost to suicide every day Featured

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HARRINGTON - Veterans with a group called INTERNITY are hiking 22 miles to help raise awareness for veterans who have taken their own lives.

Friday, a group of veterans geared up for a three day ruck.

"A ruck is different than a hike. A hike you just get up and go, but a ruck means that you are doing it in memory of someone or for a cause," said Dr. Ruth Moore, founder of INTERNITY, a veterans' resource center in Machias.

They'll hike 22 miles for the 22 veterans a day who commit suicide.

"Twenty-two a day is too many," said John "Hoppy" Hoppman, a U.S. Army veteran.

These veterans are raising awareness with every step while carrying 45 pounds on their backs.

"A lot of our veterans who do commit suicide, they have a lot of weight on them when they come back from wars, from seeing their buddies blown up or having physical trauma themselves," said Stephen Albee, a U.S. Navy veteran. "So we carry the weight to recognize that."

This isn't a fundraiser. The goal is to get service members outside to benefit from outdoor activity.

"We want to be able to teach our veterans about alternative therapies, give them alternatives to suicide, connect them with other veterans, let them develop a peer support network," said Dr. Moore.

"It's going to be fun, going to be camaraderie again, kinda like it was when I was in," said Hoppman.

They're letting their military brothers and sisters suffering from PTSD know they're not alone.

"This is a way of life for us, we had to change everything we knew when we got out of the service," Dr. Moore.

"I came back with a sound mind, but I want to be able to help others that didn't come back with a sound mind," said Albee.

"I think it's important we always support out veterans when they're in need," said Randi McKechnie, a U.S. Navy veteran.

The group will arrive in Machias on Sunday afternoon.