Gov. Ivey provides support for Operation Iron Ruck

Governor Kay Ivey on Tuesday offered her support for Operation Iron Ruck (OIR), an effort by student veterans at the University of Alabama and Auburn University to raise awareness of veteran suicide. On Wednesday, November 23, student veterans from both schools will begin a ruck march from Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, and on Iron Bowl Saturday, November 26, they will complete the route at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.

Governor Ivey has one proclamation November 23, 2022 declared Operation Iron Ruck Day in the state of Alabama.

“The sacrifice of our military men and women never ends in combat. Even as our military personnel return home, many struggle with the consequences of war in exchange for our protected freedoms. Governor Ivey said. “It is admirable to see our state’s student veterans put aside their collegiate rivalries, unite and participate in this challenging journey to raise awareness for veteran suicide and it demonstrates that our loyalty to the veteran community is recognizably strong in Alabama. I am proud to offer my support to Operation Iron Ruck. We must always fight for those who fight for us, and Alabama will always stand by our veterans.”

The group of student veterans will participate in the four-day, 241-mile ruck march from Auburn to Tuscaloosa while carrying 22-pound backpacks. Those backpacks contain donated items that the students will deliver to Bill Nichols State Veterans Home, Mission 22, Tuskegee Veteran’s Assisted Living Centers, and Three Hots and a Cot. The items include hygiene products and an assortment of foodstuffs.

“Many veterans, including myself, personally know another veteran or service member who has succumbed to suicide,” said Clayton Buchanan of the Auburn Student Veterans Association. “On average, 17 veterans commit suicide every day. Through Operation Iron Ruck and the cooperation of Auburn and Alabama student veterans, it really shows that the veteran community is strong and committed to taking care of our brothers and sisters until seventeen turns zero.

“Almost every veteran’s and military’s life has been touched by suicide in some way,” said Tiffany Laurie of the Alabama Crimson Legion. “This year hits close to home as our community recently lost a veteran, so this year we are ruining in honor of this veteran and their family.”

Operation Iron Ruck recently became a partner of Alabama’s Challenge for Preventing Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans, and their Families. The Suicide Prevention Campaign is made up of the Governor’s Office, the Alabama Legislature, several state departments, including the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs, Alabama Department of Mental Health, Alabama Department of Public Health, Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services, the Alabama National Guard, and numerous non-governmental organizations. profit organizations.

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“It speaks volumes that the Student Veteran Associations of Alabama and Auburn put aside their rivalry during Iron Bowl week to work together to raise awareness about veteran suicide,” said Kent Davis, who serves as the commissioner of the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs and co-chair of Alabama’s Challenge. “This march provides a connection and a level of support that has a lasting impact within the veteran community. I am proud of both universities and all participants for the work they are doing to raise awareness about veteran suicide.”

Alabama is home to approximately 400,000 veterans. While veterans represent about 10 percent of the state’s population, Alabama veterans also account for a disproportionate 18 percent of suicides. There were 142 veteran suicides in Alabama in 2021. If you or a loved one is experiencing depression or suicidal thoughts, you are encouraged to call The Veterans Crisis Line at 9-8-8 to speak to trained counselors and gain access to readily available resources.

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