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‘We can’t just let them go by the wayside’: Veterans gather for 5K to stop suicide

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ruck for them

OWEGO (WBNG) -- Over 120 people came out for the second annual Ruck March For Them 5K at Hickories Park in Owego on Saturday.

The Tioga County Veterans Service Agency says participants were asked to bring a backpack and fill it with 22 pounds of weight to represent the 22 veterans who commit suicide each day.

"We're starting small but who knows, in the next couple years hopefully we'll fill these fields with people who are here for the cause," organizer Michael Middaugh said.

Veterans say it was great to see the community come out and support the cause while enjoying live music, a barbecue, and the 5K.

"To see people come out, to see members, to see members from other associations, to see the community, family members who lost their veterans to suicide this is a great thing," Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association member Brian Pittarelli said. "The more we talk about it, the more people know about it the less this should happen."

Residents who came out for the event say it's important to give back to veterans who have given everything to serve their country.

"The numbers just keep adding up and it's unfortunate, there should be more people aware of all the help they can get to avoid succumbing to those demons," Commander of VFW Post 81-04 in Waverly Will Chaffee said.

A link to the Tioga County Veterans Service Agency Facebook page is available here with a number of resources for veterans struggling with mental health.

Jack Cooper

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