MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) – State leaders and student veterans groups launch Operation Iron Ruck in advance of the Iron Bowl. The goal is to end veteran suicide.
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Starting Wednesday, student veterans from the University of Alabama and Auburn University will march from Tuscaloosa to Auburn to end veteran suicide.
They put their rivalry aside and spend three days running 151 miles, all with 22-pound packs. This is to honor the 22 veterans who die by suicide every day across the country.
“Operation Iron Ruck not only raises awareness about the struggles of veteran suicide, but also sends a clear message to our fellow veterans that they are not alone,” said Jordan Golden, president of the University of Alabama Campus Veterans Association.
Veterans from both universities came to the Capitol to open the event and listen to Gov. Kay Ivey proclaim Wednesday Operation Iron Ruck Day.
“Amidst this show of unity, we cannot overlook a harsh reality. We lost 143 veterans to suicide in 2021. This number is far too high,” said Governor Ivey.
The squad also raises money and care items for various veterans groups – including Three Hots and a Cot, which helps homeless veterans, and the Bill Nichols State Veterans Home in Alabama.
But there are other ways to help.
“Pull out your phone and send a message to a veteran today. Say, “Hey, you know what, I’m with you.” I care about you. “I’m thinking of you,” said Drew Lufkin, president of the Auburn Student Veterans Association.
To donate to this year’s jerk, go to Website.
The squad finishes Saturday at Jordan Hare Stadium before the Iron Bowl. Student veterans will join the football players and hand the game ball to the officials.