The number of the day is 22.

Kentucky National Guardsmen participated in a 22km buddy ruck march for suicide prevention in Frankfort, Ky., Sept. 22, 2016. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

Kentucky National Guardsmen participated in a 22km buddy ruck march for suicide prevention in Frankfort, Ky., Sept. 22, 2016. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

Staff Report

(To see all the photos from this event, please click HERE.)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — On Sept. 22nd, Kentucky National Guard Soldiers marched 22 Kilometers to bring awareness to the 22 Veterans that take their life each day.

“Understanding the importance of suicide prevention is critical in this day and age,” said Lt. Col. Shontelle Adams, Personnel Director for the Kentucky National Guard. “We all have good days and bad days and our Soldiers need to know that it’s not only OK to reach out for help but it’s encouraged.

They can’t be embarrassed or afraid. Every life counts and we need to bring attention to this.”

Twelve teams of two started out on a ruck march across Boone National Guard Center and Salato Wildlife Education Center in Frankfort, Ky at 9 a.m. on Thursday morning. Temperatures escalated past 90 degrees as the sun rose higher in the sky throughout the day.

Many of the participants marched in memory of someone they knew.

Sgt. 1st Class Gina Vaile-Nelson, in partnership with Melissa Bohn also a Sgt. 1st Class, covered the 22 kilometers in memory of Sgt. James Panek, Spc. Ashlie Wallace and Pfc. Scott Winiewski.

Maj. Stephen Martin from the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade marched in memory of his friend, Capt. Kevin Ouellette, who passed away a year ago this month after struggling with PTSD, after his Iraq and Afghanistan deployments as a MEDEVAC Blackhawk pilot.

Soldiers were given a class by Capt. Monahan on how to identify and address cues from fellow service members who might be in distress emotionally. Along the 22 Kilometer route, the participants were given scenarios where they selected indicators and made decisions on how to best take care of their fellow Soldiers in a time of crisis.

“The importance of this event cannot be overstated. We want to do everything we can to prevent even one suicide from happening,” said Adams.

Guardyourhealth.com  has information on taking the “life pledge” which is a promise to seek help in a time of need and be there for your battle buddy.

Talk to your commander to learn more about the Life Pledge. If you are feeling helpless, hopeless, or like there is no way out, please reach out for immediate help by calling 911 or the Military Crisis Line, also known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 800-273-TALK (8255). Counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help you, and all calls are confidential.

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