March from Lincoln to Iowa City calls attention to veteran suicides

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — A 325-mile trek to Iowa City started at 6 a.m. on Wednesday at Memorial Stadium.

Participants in The Things They Carry Ruck March ventured out in the frigid weather to bring awareness to veteran suicides.

They were asked to carry 20 pounds of personal belongings to honor the 20 veterans who take their own lives every day.

Ruck refers to the pack that service members carry on their back.

Team Nebraska is made up of student veterans from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Ruck it Up 4 Warriors, a suicide awareness organization in Lincoln.

Before the annual walk began, UNL student Jenale Winer, said it builds a bond between the participating schools.

“It definitely kind of builds a bond between Nebraska and the Iowa students, a lot of the stuff that we have in common,” she said. “So, it’s a nice thing to do each year.”

Everett Bloom, the president of the Student Veterans of America at UNL, said that while it was chilly outside, they still had about 20 people walk the morning shift.

“A lot of people were putting in a lot of effort, having a lot of fun; comradery is always great,” Bloom said. “We’re out here for something bigger than ourselves, so it’s always a good event.”

The team is expected to travel in shifts of roughly 20 miles each between checkpoints, starting with the Wednesday morning shift of 15 miles to the town of Eagle.

The afternoon shift had about five people who walked to Ashland.

“The main goal is to raise awareness for veterans suicide; it’s something that’s been afflicting the veteran community,” Bloom said. “So, it’s very important to us that we get the word out, get people talking about it. We also want to highlight the resources that are out there as well, so like the Veterans Crisis Line and local VAs.”

Team Nebraska will walk for 4½ days before they make it all the way to Freedom Rock in Menlo, Iowa, on Sunday.

From there, they will hand off the game ball to Team Iowa, which will then carry it to Kinnick Stadium for the Huskers vs. Hawkeyes matchup on Nov. 25.

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