Veterans from throughout Commonwealth who have been impacted by suicide are ruck marching across Massachusetts to bring awareness to the epidemic of veterans suicide and the needs of veterans.
Vet Ruck New England will be a 200-mile, nonstop, day and night, ruck march through almost 50 small towns across all of Massachusetts to raise awareness of the needs of veterans. The team of nine will start at Bates Memorial State Park in Hancock, Mass. at noon on Thursday, Aug. 17, and march 200 miles, finishing at Plymouth Rock at approximately noon on Sunday, Aug. 20.
“Veteran suicide is an issue that all of us should concern ourselves with,” said Jim Clark, the city’s director of Veteran Services. “The transition from the military to civilian life is often times drastic and the needs of our veterans must be addressed not only at the federal level, but here locally and this event demonstrates that every community has a role.”
The march will pass by Park Square in downtown Pittsfield at approximately 2 p.m. on Thursday. Residents are encouraged to gather along the route or at Park Square to cheer on the marchers as they begin the long trek across the state.
The route through the Berkshires is as follows (times are approximate):
Noon Starting Point – Massachusetts/New York State Line
12:35 p.m. Hancock Shaker Village/Pittsfield Line
1 p.m. Ice River Springs
1 p.m. Soldier On
2 p.m. Park Square
2:15 p.m East and Elm Streets/Providence Court
2:30 p.m. East Street and Merrill Road
2:45 p.m. Wohrle’s Foods
3:10 p.m. Pittsfield/Dalton Line
3:45 p.m. South and Main Streets (Dalton)
4:45 p.m. Dalton American Legion (Route 9)
6:15 p.m. Sangar General Store (Windsor)
8:15 p.m. Stage Road (Cummington)
The latest report from the Veterans Administration indicated that 20 veterans take their own life day. The 200-miles represent 10 miles for each veteran who will take his or her own life that day.
While the number has dropped from 22 to 20 per day, one veteran taking their own life is too many, Clark said. Along the way, the team also will be stopping to talk to people, meeting with town leaders and local veterans’ organizations to raise awareness of the needs of returning veterans.
The Warrior Thunder Foundation’s mission is to provide programs to support former and current service members, as well as their families in New England to improve their wellness and raise awareness.