Operation Iron Ruck Alabama and Auburn Student: In Alabama, leaders and student veterans are embarking on Operation Iron Ruck, a significant initiative leading up to the Iron Bowl, with the mission to combat veterans’ suicide.
Commencing on Wednesday, student veterans from the University of Alabama and Auburn University will undertake a three-day journey, covering 151 miles from Tuscaloosa to Auburn, symbolically carrying 22-pound rucksacks to honor the 22 veterans who tragically lose their lives to suicide each day nationwide.
President Jordan Golden of the University of Alabama Campus Veterans Association emphasized that Operation Iron Ruck not only raises awareness about the challenges of veteran suicide but also sends a powerful message of unity to fellow veterans, letting them know they are not alone.
The kick-off event at the Capitol, where Governor Kay Ivey declared Wednesday as Operation Iron Ruck Day, showcased veterans from both universities coming together.
Governor Ivey acknowledged the stark reality of losing 143 veterans to suicide in 2021, emphasizing the need for concerted efforts to address this alarming issue.
Operation Iron Ruck not only aims to raise awareness but also collects funds and care items for various veterans’ groups, including Three Hots and a Cot, assisting homeless veterans, and the Bill Nichols State Veterans Home in Alabama.
Auburn Student Veterans Association President Drew Lufkin encouraged everyone to support veterans not only through physical initiatives but also by sending a simple message of care and support.
The concluding leg of the ruck is scheduled for Saturday at Jordan Hare Stadium before the Iron Bowl. Student veterans will join football players in a symbolic gesture, handing off the game ball to officials.