The fifth annual Operation Ruck 22 event to raise awareness of veteran suicide will be a virtual event this year.

Traditionally held in the fall, this year’s event will take place throughout the month of September.

“On average, 22 veterans commit suicide each day. One Veteran suicide is too many,” said Scott Groff, past commander of VFW Post 7591 in Madison and a member of the Operation Ruck 22 planning committee. “Operation Ruck 22 is a symbolic 22-mile march that raises awareness of veteran suicide. While we march, we carry 22 pounds in our rucksack to remember those we’ve lost.”

Because the event is virtual this year, participants can pick how to do the 22 miles or the 22 kilometers – all in one day, 1 mile or kilometer each day for 22 days, two miles or kilometers for 11 days, or whatever combination they design.

Those who can’t participate this year may support veterans by donating or purchasing T-shirts, gaiters, buffs, masks and challenge coins. Items will be mailed to buyers for a nominal fee, or buyers and all others are invited to stop by the VFW Post, 301 Cottage Grove Road, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26. The VFW will host a brat fry during that time as well.

The event’s website also has an In Memoriam section, which allows anyone who has had a veteran family member or friend die by suicide to pay tribute to that person. Photos and a summary of the person’s life can be submitted.

To sign up for the event, buy merchandise, donate or submit an In Memoriam profile, visit www.operationruck22.com.

Questions about the event can be directed to Groff at operationruck22@gmail.com or 960-8180 (call or text).

Veterans who are struggling with suicidal thoughts can contact the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255, press 1.

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