INTERNITY Members Hold Innagural RUCK For Suicide Awareness

HARRINGTON, Maine (WABI) - A group of veterans are strapping on their boots to connect with other vets who are living with hidden disabilities.

As Alyssa Thurlow shows us, their goal is to bring awareness to the high number of suicides in the veteran population.

22... that's the number of veterans and active military members who take their own lives every day.

It's the goal of one group to help bring that number down while getting the conversation going about suicide in the military.

"We found that there weren't a lot of resources for our veterans in times of need and we developed some core programs. The first one we developed was Pets For Vets program. Then we also developed the Operation 2: A Call to Action, we also developed a reach one each one and today is the combination of the Operation 22: Call to Action," explains Ruth Moore, Founder of INTERNITY.

A grass roots, "hands on," type of program that looks at the reasons a veteran might be losing hope.

To help make folks aware, INTERNITY created their first ever RUCK - a 22 mile hike to help vets get a taste of the outdoors.

"It's my nature. It's my therapy. I love getting outside. All the problems in the world go away when I'm outside," said Moore.

Ruth Moore, the founder of INTERNITY, knows all too well about the subject of suicide after almost taking her own life as a young veteran.

"I felt lost and alone and unfortunately my own family didn't even want to help. They didn't understand what had happened to me and they kind of blamed me for being sexually assaulted and when all that came together, I felt that I couldn't handle it anymore and tried to commit suicide at 18 years old," explains Moore.

Moore says their main goal is to reach out to vets while advocating and providing assistance.

That includes help from folks like Bill Kane, founder and instructor of Wild and Rescue Medicine at Kane Schools out of Fryeburg.

"When I mentioned to people that I was coming up and they said, what does the 22 mean, I said on average, every day, 22 vets take their lives and their jaws just drop."

"We need to take care of substance abuse, depression, a lot of things that come along with PTSD and people say there is a lot of that right, but these people have served with an understanding that they would do this," said Kane.

Organizers say they plan on trekking more miles next year, but, their goal will stay the same.

"If we can save even one life, one veteran, if you look at the long term impact of that, one veteran every day is 365 veterans at the end of the year," explains Moore.