So why are there 21 military backpacks hanging in the hallway at Moraine Park’s Fond du lac campus?

Staff, faculty and students have been asking that question for the last few weeks.  On average, 20-22 veterans commit suicide every day, that’s one veteran every 72 minutes and Steve Pepper, Student Veteran Specialist at Moraine Park wanted to make sure everyone who walked the halls was aware of this sad statistic. Some stop and reflect, others ask what it means, but this visual reminder has definitely made an impact.

To increase awareness of the significant mental health risk for individuals who served and give an opportunity for the community to get involved Moraine Park and Marian University along with assistance from Salute the Troops, Inc. have team up to sponsor two suicide awareness events on April 21 & 22.

The first event hosted by Moraine Park’s counselors will take place on Friday, April 21 at 5:00 p.m. on the Fond du Lac campus, with a showing of the documentary, Project 22 with free pizza and beverages provided by Moraine Park’s Student Veteran Association (SVA). Project 22 is a non-profit documentary, following two veterans, Doc King and Dan Egbert, on a 6,500 mile motorcycle ride across the country to raise awareness of the high number of veteran suicides that occur each day. Along the way the two discover holistic methods of “post traumatic growth” and meet “inspirational warriors” who have overcome extremedifficulties in their post military lives.  This film is comprised of real conversations with warriors, providers and researchers, and needs no combat footage to comprehensively explore the transition home, and leaves audiences hopeful and motivated to take action. This film is for Veterans, families, veteran advocates, and anyone who has dealt with trauma, loss, or depression. (Run time is approximately 1hr 42min)

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The next event is the following day on Saturday, April 22, as Marian University hosts a 2.2 mile ruck march and walk around their Fond du Lac campus, followed by lunch, tours of the Office of Veteran Services and an opportunity for veterans and the public to meet with area veteran resource providers. Registration begins at 9:00 a.m. in the Stayer Center parking lot located at the corner of National Avenue and 2nd Street and the walk starts promptly at 10:00 a.m. This event is also to raise awareness of the veteran suicide rate and form a strong community around our veterans. Don’t worry, you don’t need a rucksack or backpack to participate, and filling it with 22 pounds is optional, but everyone who attends is encouraged to honor a service member by carrying a photo of them during the walk. The first 100 individuals who register and take part in the event will receive a free “22 No More” t-shirt provided by the Moraine Park’s Student Life Coordinator and Marian University’s SVO.

Both events are free, but donations are encouraged, with funds going to support the Salute the Troops and the Student Veteran Organizations of both colleges.

To pre-register for either event please click here . Walk/march participants will receive a free water bottle or small sportpack, while supplies last.

For more information on these two events please contact Steve Pepper, Student Veteran Specialist for Moraine Park Technical College at 920-924-3489 or Maranda Abitz, Coordinator of Veteran Services at Marian University, at 920-923-8641.

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Stephen Pepper
Written by Stephen Pepper
Student Veterans Specialist