Fort Bragg soldier raises awareness about suicides through 22-mile walk
Posted July 13, 2018 2:16 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 2:51 p.m. EDT
Fort Bragg, N.C. — A Special Forces soldier from Fort Bragg is trying to raise awareness about military veterans who commit suicide in a unique way: He's walking 22 miles over a two-day span while carrying 200 pounds of weight.
The numbers hold special meaning because statistics show that 20 to 22 active-duty service members or military vets take their own lives in the U.S. every day. That's why a group called 22 Until None has decided to focus on the issue in an effort to call attention to the problem.
Army Sgt. First Class Chris McHargue and fellow military veterans began their 22-mile march at 1 a.m. Friday from the Hoke County Courthouse.
McHargue, president of the local chapter of 22 Until None, was carrying a rucksack weighing 200 pounds during the march.
The pounds represent the average weight of service members in combat. McHargue's theme for this march is, "He's not heavy. He's my brother."
He said America should help its veterans who struggle with the horrors of war after they have left the battlefield.
For McHargue, the march is personal.
"A friend of mine (committed suicide) in 2016, and when I lost him it hit me pretty hard," he said. "It (hurts) to see these guys come back from combat with multiple tours as Green Berets -- the elite of the elite -- and (have) them take their own life when they come home because they're struggling with what they've been through."
McHargue said the money he has raised for his chapter of 22 Until None will be used for scholarships that will fund emergency financial assistance to vets while also providing advocacy and resource referral to help get any veteran or active service member the help they need if they are considering taking their own life.
McHargue has finished the first leg of the march and will walk again on Saturday.
The walk will end at 1 p.m. at the Fort Bragg Harley-Davidson shop, located at 3950 Sycamore Dairy Road in Fayetteville.
The event will culminate with a rally for families and include food, live music and the awarding of a scholarship.