Walk to Raise Awareness of PTSD and Suicide Among Veterans
By George Holmes
American Military University Alumnus
Imagine all of the joy being taken from your life. The things you used to enjoy such as exercising, spending time with family, and playing music no longer interest you. Your new best friend is a bottle of whiskey, and you would rather be in a dark room alone than spend time with friends or loved ones.
These feelings begin to consume your entire life and eventually take you deeper and deeper into a hole that you feel you can never get out of. Death at your own hands may seem easier than continuing on. This is what PTSD looks like among our veterans.
Currently, the Veterans Administration estimates that each day 22 veterans take their own lives, or over 8,000 annually. I personally know four veterans who have taken their own lives after losing a battle with PTSD.
I decided to take action to help my fellow veterans who fought for this beautiful country defeat the demons of PTSD. I founded the Arooh Initiative to raise awareness that we are losing our nation’s heroes and they need our help.
After many different ideas, I decided that one way to accomplish this goal was to walk to the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, Va., 251 miles from my home in Pittsburgh, Penn. I will carry a wrestling dummy along on my trip that carries the names of veterans who currently suffer from PTSD or have lost their battle. I want to show that I am willing to carry my brothers and sisters to help them overcome their struggles and live a joyful life once again.
My week-long walk will begin June 5 in Pittsburgh. The day after I complete the walk, I will participate in the commencement ceremony for American Military University on June 13, where I will receive my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.
One key aspect of The Arooh Initiative is to promote education for our veterans. AMU was amazing in my undergraduate studies. Gaining an education was a huge confidence boost for me and gave me a great sense of accomplishment.
During the 250+ mile walk, I hope to raise awareness that many of our nation’s warriors are struggling with PTSD and we need to be there to pick them up. They have fought for our nation and our freedoms, and now it is our turn to help them.
As a veteran myself and someone who has lost friends due to this invisible killer, I need to let my others know I have their back. AROOH!