Runners carry flags, extra weight to promote suicide prevention awareness among military

Posted at 6:01 PM, Aug 22, 2015
and last updated 2015-08-22 21:21:48-04

HERRIMAN, Utah – Saturday, local Army and Marine veterans along with other service men and women ran in a half-marathon in Herriman to remember the dozens of service personnel who commit suicide daily in the United States and to raise awareness of the issue and methods of prevention.

The U.S. Army reports 22 service men and women take their lives every day. Saturday morning, Utah Marines and soldiers marched or ran with 22-pound weights strapped on their backs to represent the number of people who become casualties in the battle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) every day.

“A lot of the things you see in combat, it’s kind of self-explanatory, there’s a lot of bad things that happen in war and sometimes, your demons get the best of you,” said Kirk Cormack, a U.S. Marine Corps. veteran and participant in the Devil Dog Honor Ruck.

With 22-pound ruck sacks attached to their bodies and backs, the participants ran or marched 13.1 miles while carrying flags–as part of the Hold ‘em Half marathon on the Juniper Crest trailhead in Herriman.

“It means a lot to us, to be out here to support our veterans, to be out here to do this together with the Army, the Marines, the Navy--shows that we’re all together: One team, one fight,” said Capt. Robert West with the Army Reserve.

“There’s something about enduring that pain and that strenuous activity together that brings you together and strengthens and forms that brotherhood,” Cormack said.

More than 7,000 service members and veterans suffering from PTSD in the United States are lost to suicide each year.

“You know, taking their lives is a tragedy,” said Sgt. Nathan Fleshman, who is a Recruiter for the U.S. Army and Army Reserves. “And we want to help raise that awareness to the community, so if they can see any signs or symptoms, they can reach out to soldiers.”

Marine and Army captains say they hope Saturday’s exercise will remind soldiers there is always hope and to reach out to fellow soldiers who are struggling before it becomes too late.