In what is perhaps bigger news than running in my 11th state is that I found an incredible organization, called 22 Too Many, which I will be running for from here on out – including local races.
I discovered this organization through Kate Champion’s book, Never Too Late. The book shines the spotlight on 7 amazing later-in-life athletes as they candidly share their thoughts, feelings, and knowledge on several topics. One of the athletes, Richard ‘Butch’ Britton is an ultra-marathoner (and like me, a military veteran) who talked about this nonprofit organization that supports our military communities and their families and loved ones who deal with grief, loss, suicides, and PTSD.
In February 2013, the VA released a report that the number of veteran suicides per day was 22.
It is believed that the number is higher than 22 right now. Reports don’t factor in drug overdoses, accidents that may not have been accidental, or the tragedy of ‘suicide by cop.’ In the latest studies, the VA states the number is too difficult to accurately pinpoint.
The issue isn’t awareness – more than that is needed. Suicide prevention, the provision of helpful resources, and crisis intervention should be our country’s priorities. Not only for the military member or veteran, but for their hurting families as well.
As I mentioned, for each race I run from here on out, I will honor a hero through 22 Too Many. I will help spread the story of each veteran I run for. I will choose a veteran for each state I run (including all the Rhode Island races I run). I will wear the photo of each hero as I run the race, and will write to each family and send them pics, my race bib, and any medals I receive.
I can’t help but feel that my late father helped me discover this path since we are both proud war veterans. In the book, Butch spoke about how he raised a lot of money for the Wounded Warrior Project for his first race. Then he did some digging and found that the percentage of the money going to the veterans was far less than what the organization was keeping.
But, 22 Too Many sounds like they are more honest. I have been in contact with one of the co-founders, and hope to have her on the podcast soon.