Dartmouth Man Prepares to Walk 22 Miles for Veteran Suicide Awareness
Walking miles with a 40-pound ruck sack on isn't anything new to Dartmouth resident Jason Ray. Not only has he accomplished the strenuous feat in the past as a U.S. Marine vet, he prepares for it almost every day.
Ray and his wife Genevieve Ray are the cofounders for Rucking for Veterans, a 501(c)(3) charity. On top of being an ambassador for Mission 22, Roy refers to his plight as a same team, same fight situation where he plans on donating a portion of his ruck revenue to Mission 22. Basically, Roy wants to help out all veterans with PTSD he comes across.
On November 11, 2021, a coordinated 22-mile walk will be held, all while carrying around a 40-pound rucksack. Participation is $25 to enter and $100 to sponsor each mile. The team plans on ending veteran suicide one mile at a time.
Seven years ago, a friend of Roy's committed suicide, sparking the interest in the 22-mile ruck.
"I spent a lot of years wondering what I can do more," Roy said solemnly. "Not only am I a marine vet, I'm a storm veteran and a neighbor to a close friend who took his own life. He alone is the motivation to ruck the 22 miles. I just keep thinking to myself, if I could’ve done more, could I have stopped it?”
Roy's motivation stems from crowd participation.
"If I can just get enough people to watch their neighbors and family and friends on the daily so that they can provide more information to people they don’t know, then maybe we can start saving veteran lives," Ray said.
As troops from the Afghan war return home, PTSD will soon begin to settle.
"It's tough, you know, especially with people coming home from the Middle East, it’s going to be on the upswing for the next five years," Roy explained. "The whole experience is trying to get people in the SouthCoast community to say 'hey, we need to take care of our veterans and check up on these people,' because in all honesty, there is a problem and we have your back."
Last year was a whole different approach with a singular participant; this year, Roy has support in numbers.
"I had a blast doing it by myself last year," Roy said. "This year's going to be great. Some of the people I just did a tough ruck with are going to be coming along, too. Between the Mission 22 crew and my crew, it’s going to be a great time."
Ray has one final thought when it comes to being kind on a daily basis.
“Just do it," Roy said. "Do what you can, have fun and no judgment. Don’t have a ruck? Bring a backpack. One guy did it with his kid's school backpack, so just throw some weight in and you'll be soon be on your way."
"It’s not about the weight or the race or time, it’s people coming together with a common goal of ending this pandemic of veteran suicide," Roy said. "At least you get a cool patch out it."