HPD Ruck 22 raises more than $3,500 for veteran’s charities

By NATHAN HOWELL | Staff Writer

HELENA– Even though a tornado ripped through the town just one day prior, hundreds of people came out for the Helena Police Department’s Ruck 22 on March 27, which was designed to raise funds for and honor veteran’s who commit suicide.

According to HPD, the event ended up raising over $3,500 for veteran’s charities, through donations, entry fees and memorial t-shirt sales, through a partnership with Priority Soldier.

Priority Soldier is a veteran’s resource organization that wanted to highlight the fact that around 22 veteran’s commit suicide each day. This event was a visual representation of the pain that those service members carry, as participants physically carry weight for the duration of the walk.

A ruck is a loaded march, where participants carry weight while marching a certain distance. This particular ruck was a 4.2-mile march beginning and ending at Helena High School, according to HPD Officer Jeff Murphy.

“We just started our veteran’s outreach program and we thought that this would be a great way to initiate the program in the community,” Murphy said. “We just want to get out and let the community know what we are doing.”

Helena Mayor Brian Puckett said the event was an inspiring show of community, especially after the devastation that took place in the city just a day before.

“It is very critical that we think about our veterans the suicide that happens more times than we want to think about. To be able to bring that type of awareness to Helena is wonderful.” Puckett said. “Kris Cooper and Marquese Jackson helped to organize it all, and did a phenomenal job putting it on.”

HPD Chief Brad Flynn said that the event was incredibly inspiring to him, to see the community come together to honor those who have served the community and the country.

“Today was one of the most inspiring days I’ve had in quite a while. For nothing I did. This was from watching what others did for each other,” Flynn expressed. “Began bright and early at 7 a.m. for our 4.2-mile ruck to raise awareness to the alarming numbers of veteran’s who commit suicide each day.”

According to Priority Soldier, the money raised from the ruck will go to support the Alabama National Cemetery and the Veteran Crisis Line, which seeks to help veterans who may be experiencing crisis.