Ruck up for Life: US veterans march in Minnesota for comrades that take own lives daily
The event was called "Ruck Up For Life," and was the third of its kind. For many activists the pressure that troops come under when going back to civilian lives after serving in places like Afghanistan or Iraq is something they know from personal experience.
“Being in combat 18 hours ago and then sitting down in McDonald's and grabbing a hamburger. Or sitting down in your living room or your office, knowing that you'll have to go back to war five months from now and it's really hard to live through that dichotomy,” former combat medic Landon Steele, one of the rally’s organizers, told RT.
The US is second to only China in the number of active military personnel and has unparalleled global reach with over a hundred of bases spread throughout the world. About 13 percent of American adults are veterans, according to a 2012 Gallop poll.
Over half of all veterans returning from combat zones have suffered from mental problems. An estimated one in four homeless people in America served in the military.
The grim statistics make some question whether the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is doing enough to take care of retired personnel.
“I think the VA is not doing... They should be working to fix the VA more. The veterans shouldn't have to wait for any kind of care,” rally participant Will, who served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, told RT.
The organizers chose the number 23 because it was cited by some politicians like former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. The estimate more popular in the media is 22, which came from a 2012 VA report on the matter. It was criticized by some for putting the rate out of context and possibly overblown. The report used suicide statistics from only some states, since others are not required to collect the data, so some believe the actual number may be higher.