Last week while perusing Facebook I came across a video from a friend of mine that inspired me to write this post. When I clicked play I listened to what my friend had to say and then watched him do 22 perfect push ups. No, this was not a fitness video.
You see each push up my friend did was for a military veteran and one active duty service member who would die by suicide that very day. Did that just take you breath away? Consider this for a moment; every single day 22 veterans and one active duty service member, takes their own life. That means over 8,000 veterans a year take their own life. It took my breath away when I learned of this widely reported statistic.
This heart breaking reality inspired the veterans organization Honor Courage Commitment Inc. to create a public awareness and fundraiser campaign called #22Kill and Operation 22. Their idea was very similar to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that went viral a short time ago.
Here’s the short version of how the push up challenge works: You video yourself (or your group if you choose to go that route) saying who you are and why you are about to knock out 22 push ups and who you wish to nominate for the challenge. Then you upload your video to your social media platform with the hash tag #22Kill. The organizations goal is to reach 22 million push ups. To see how many have been done so far and to learn more about the challenge and the rules, click here.
The other component specific to #22Kill, is the wearable merchandise you can purchase to demonstrate support for military veterans and to raise money and awareness for the cause. This article from The Washington Post takes a look at some celebrities who wear the ring.
The following quote is from Allen B. West regarding his thoughts on #22 Kill: The mission of #22KILL is to advocate for and support veterans, in order to stop the terrible tragedy of veteran suicides. The figure of 22 veteran suicides per day is widely quoted. The number may even be higher. One in two veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars say they know a fellow service member who attempted or committed suicide, according to a Washington Post-Kaiser Health poll. But there is one thing that cannot be debated: our veterans deserve our respect, our thanks and our assistance in building healthy and productive lives off the battlefield.
Each year an estimated 8,000 + veterans take their own lives. This statistic impacts us all. Chances are pretty hight that a student in your classroom knows a veteran that is no longer here because of suicide. These are fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, sons, daughters and friends all gone before their time. Who knows what these 8000 individuals might have accomplished with their lives if they were given the proper treatment for their conditions and if the general public had a better understanding of the real costs of war and the sacrifices made in defense of our country.
Many veterans take their lives because they suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). Some take their lives because they return home to hopeless situations with no job and support network in place. (Did you know that on any given night there are 47,725 homeless veterans on the streets?) Just imagine for a moment if these 8000 veterans were given the proper medical, psychological, and spiritual support they needed and were welcomed home to an understanding and thankful public who offered their support and assistance with their transition back to civilian life.
What would they have become? Some of my best teachers growing up were veterans from The Korean and Vietnam War. These individuals were fortunate to have returned safely home from war and were able to transition to civilian life through strong support networks and family connections. They were able to draw upon their vast life experiences and discipline acquired through military service and helped direct countless students towards a more meaningful life through what they taught in the classroom and through who they were as human beings. We will never know how many of these 8000 veterans would have gone on to become transformative teachers like the ones I had. Truly we are all diminished by the untimely death of each and every one of these veterans.
How You Can Help
- Visit honorcouragecommitment.org to learn about issues facing veterans and how can help. They offer six terrific ways to get involved. Click here to learn more.
- If you are short on time and want to get going on your video and knocking out some push ups visit 22kill.com and find the Get Involved link and go to #22pushups for help on how to get started. If you have more time make sure you check out the other great ways you can help the cause. Click here to learn more.
- If you are unable to do the push ups or make the video you can always make a donation on either of the above mentioned sites and on stopsoldiersuicide.org as well.
- In my research I also came across Mission22.com and it is worth the time to visit and learn about their organization and ways to help.
- For more inspiration for yourself and others you hope to recruit visit the following pages: www.facebook.com/22PushupChallenge/, www.youtube.com/watch , www.youtube.com/watch
Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below. Additionally, please let me and other readers know of any additional websites or resources I may have missed and please share this post with others. Most importantly, thank you to all veterans past and present for your service and sacrifice.