By CAROLYN PLANTIN
“Twenty two military veterans take their lives every day in the United States,” according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. The “22 Pushup Challenge” was put into place by Honor Courage Commitment, Inc. to raise awareness and to hopefully lower that statistic. A recent update now shows that twenty veterans commit suicide every day, and even though the number lowered, the battle does not stop here.
“The solution is veteran empowerment. One of the biggest challenges veterans face is finding a sense of purpose after service,” the 22kill.com website states.
The 22Kill website also sells products such as shirts to raise money and accepts donations towards veterans empowerment. It is common to purchase a black ring after completing the challenge to show support towards the cause.
Much like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, the 22 Pushup Challenge encourages people to do up to twenty two pushups showing their support for veterans and spreading awareness around the nation. Many celebrities like Dwayne Johnson and Chris Pratt participated to demonstrate their gratefulness to army veterans and to the army as a whole. By posting videos of them doing pushups on their Instagram, they helped make this phenomenon go viral on social media. People all over the United States are filming themselves doing pushups and then challenging their friends to do the same.
Over a hundred thousand videos were posted on Instagram, and the 22 Pushup Challenge has above fourteen thousand likes. This phenomenon is taking over social media and raising awareness around the nation. The NYPD Counterterrorism Bureau of Critical Response and Command also took on the challenge and posted a video of them doing twenty two pushups to support the cause.
Jason Ryan, a sophomore new media production major also did the challenge at the Summer Leadership and Character Development Academy in Quantico, VA.
“It’s important to bring awareness to this problem so people can take initiative and help lower the number of veteran suicides,” Ryan said.
In most of the videos posted online, people speak about the problem and state some of the staggering facts.
“More veterans have died by their own hands than the wars of Afghanistan and Iraq combined, and while these are chilling statistics, they are real,” one of the videos featured on the 22 pushup challenge Facebook page states.
William Campos, a freshman majoring in entrepreneurship and also a member of the ROTC program, talks about what can be done to lower the number of suicides.
“I’d have to say that both a conglomeration of communal empathy, along with the opportunity to access resources such as counseling and therapy, could really mitigate the number of veteran suicides,” Campos said.
Daniel Somers was an army veteran who took his own life on July 10, 2013. He left a suicide note behind, and his family decided to share it with the media to raise awareness as to why so many veterans kill themselves everyday.
“All day, every day a screaming agony in every nerve ending in my body. It is nothing short of torture. My mind is a wasteland, filled with visions of incredible horror, unceasing depression, and crippling anxiety.” Somer said in the emotional and eye-opening note he left behind.
PTSD is often diagnosed in the army, and especially within veterans. Starting a new life after duty can be difficult, and not much is put into place to help that process run smoothly. The goal of the 22 Pushup Challenge is to raise awareness and help put some policies in place to help veterans through their struggles.
Carolyn Plantin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.