Random Harvest: 22 Push-Ups for Veterans
By JON WILSON, Consulting Editor, TB Reporter
The purpose of this nationwide challenge is to focus attention on the trauma of veterans, who commit suicide at the estimated rate of 22 every day.
As a news item on the Internet suggested – no, it wasn’t fake news – some Facebook pages have come to resemble a boot camp ad. It’s the push-ups. Hooah!
A kind of national chain challenge has for more than a year sent thousands dipping to the floor to strain through this classic exercise.
Twenty-two push-ups recognize that an estimated 22 military veterans commit suicide every day.
It’s not so much a fund-raiser, although contributions to various agencies that help veterans are encouraged. It’s more of a project to throw light on the trauma many veterans experience, especially those who have returned from war zones.
It’s to help all of us recognize what these men and women go through. It’s to suggest ways we might be supportive.
Army veteran Nate Koehn is credited with launching the 22 push-up challenge in early 2015.
“I’m going to continue to do what I do, offer a voice. That means more to me than the dollars,” Koehn told a western Michigan news station.
There are various wrinkles to the challenge. But a common one works like this: You do 22 push-ups every day for 22 days, symbolizing the 22 daily veterans’ suicides. You video yourself exercising or get someone to do it for you. You post it on Facebook with an explanation. You challenge someone else to do the same.
My old pal Phil Baucom completed his 22-a-day regimen and then laid the challenge on me.
I’d rather get a flu shot than do a push-up. But I got with the program and completed it today. The push-ups weren’t so bad and I learned a lot about veterans and supportive organizations.
The 22-a-day suicide rate is verifiable. Other estimates are higher; still others are a bit lower. One, of course, is too many. In Pinellas, at least 700 veterans attempted suicide between 2012 and 2015; 54 died.
Other groups, many of them first responders, have significant suicide rates, too. Police officers, for example, have an occupation with the fifth highest suicide rate. In Pinellas, an estimated five firefighter suicides happened last year. An organization that helps firefighters is here.
We can recognize the sacrifices made by others. We can help save those who save others. Google around the Internet. You can find plenty of ways to help. Spread the word.
Oh, and to those who have read this far, I challenge you to do 22 push-ups a day for 22 days.
Veterans | Mental Health | Suicides | 22 Push-ups | Tampa Bay Reporter
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