TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Before The University of Alabama and Auburn University meet on the gridiron, student veterans support groups from both universities will come together to bring awareness to veteran suicide.
Members of UA’s Campus Veterans Association will march alongside Auburn’s Student Veterans Association for the sixth annual Operation Iron Ruck that began on the Walk of Champions at Bryant-Denny Stadium Nov. 22 and will end in Auburn ahead of the Iron Bowl.
“Operation Iron Ruck brings both veterans from UA and Auburn together to bring awareness to the public about the struggle of veteran suicide and offers a personal level of support to those who participate,” said Jordan Golden, president of the UA Campus Veterans Association. “It’s a chance to decompress and meet new people that can relate to the struggles veterans are going through.”
During the three-day trip, each student veteran will hike 50 miles and walk for 2 ½ hours before climbing into a support vehicle for about five hours of rest before their next hike.
Student veterans from UA and Auburn will carry 22 pounds of donated materials to represent the estimated 22 veterans who die by suicide every day. Monetary and material donations will be distributed to Three Hots and A Cot, Mission 22, the Bill Nichols State Veterans Home and Tuskegee VA Medical Center.
“I look forward to Operation Iron Ruck every year to see my family from the other side of the state,” Golden said. “Having personal experience with losing friends to suicide, I make it my mission to get the word out to other veterans that it is OK not to be OK, and we are here to help you.”
For more information including the route, resources and ways to donate, visit the Operation Iron Ruck website.
The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.
Bryant Welbourne, UA Strategic Communications, 205-348-8325, firstname.lastname@example.org