Veterans march 23 miles to raise awareness of soldier suicide

Hundreds of people gathered in St. Paul on Saturday to bring attention to the high number of veterans committing suicide with a 23-mile march called “Ruck Up for Life.”

Statistics show 23 veterans commit suicide daily, so every step of the 23 mile march carries meaning.

After a couple of combat tours as a medic, Landon Steele knows the dangers of post-traumatic stress first hand.

“When I came back [from the tours], I struggled with depression and thought about suicide as well,” Steele said.

He organized the Ruck Up for Life march, with some veterans actually carrying their nearly 40 pound rucksacks.

“It's more than just the walk,” Sergeant Kyle Gray of the Minnesita National Guard said. “You feel like you have their weight on your shoulders.”

The several hundred people participating in the event plan to march the entire day. Their mantra is to never leave a fallen comrade, something they hope others, beyond military families, can understand and follow in their footsteps.

“It's very important that our civilian friends know the fighting was easy.  It's coming home that is so incredibly hard,” Brian Kerkow, a veteran, said.

This is the third year the march has taken place. Steele says the cause is just too important not to keep it going.