We have frequently in the past advocated for many of the fine organizations that support our Veteran community here at SpecialOperations.com, especially those who care for our Special Operations Forces and/or are conducting a fundraiser thru rucking.

During the past weekend, the 30th annual Bataan Memorial Death March drew its largest field of ruckers and runners yet with 8,631 registered to run or march through the desert in the area of White Sands Missile Range.

People could register for the full 26.2-mile marathon march/run or a shorter 14.2-mile course. The Bataan Memorial Death March course was started by students from New Mexico State University back in 1989. Just three years later in 1992, the Army got involved and began holding the event on the military installation.

Sunday’s event was a huge success, besides the nearly 9000 event participants, there were 1500 volunteers supporting the course, thousands of spectators to cheer on the participants as well as four of the surviving Bataan Death March soldiers. One of the survivors, Ben Skardon who is 101 years old, led “Ben’s Brigade” on a three-mile course back to the base.

Skardon is a retired Colonel from the U.S. Army and a professor emeritus from Clemson University. This is the 12th time, that he’s attended and walked in the memorial event. He’s an inspiration to many for his “Never Quit” attitude. Way to go Ben.

In preparing for your own Selection courses, these fundraisers are a great way to give back to your own community and to get out and break up the normal Selection prep routine. Many of the rucksack marchers in the “heavy” category, with a minimum of 35-pounds or more, filled their rucksacks with canned goods to donate to local food pantries at the conclusion of the event.  That is even more civic-minded.

Our own Selection prep on Sunday consisted of our own weekly Sunday rucksack march. Since I couldn’t attend out there at the White Sands Missile Range in person, I decided that I’d be there in spirit. I got out in the cold a bit earlier than normal and extended my own Sunday ruck march out. I was finishing up about the time, the people in the desert were forming up, due to the time difference. But that event is on my own personal bucket list of events to attend.

This coming weekend is an event being held in places across the United States to bring the public to light on the plight of veteran’s suicides and to reduce the number while assisting military families.

The event called “Carry the Fallen” is not one I had personally heard of prior, however, it is a particularly noble cause and definitely one we can all get behind.  According to their website, they hope to accomplish their goal by:

  1. Establishing camaraderie to cope with Post Traumatic Stress (anger, depression, loneliness, substance abuse, and suicidal tendencies). Uniting veterans, families, and supporters to care for each other in times of need.
  2. Training Team Leaders how to interact with suicidal veterans and the steps to assist them.
  3. Developing a Peer Mentor and Ambassador community of veterans, military families and civilians who support struggling families and/or veterans.
  4. Supporting Active Heroes programs including the retreat, community center, home repairs, and active challenges from donations raised by the Carry The Fallen events that will help reduce veteran suicide with outdoor activity programs and educational programs.

Teams form to ruck-march for 3, 6, 12 or 22 hours while carrying the weight that symbolizes the burden that many veterans carry post-war or post-trauma. This weekend the two events scheduled are Carry the Fallen-Boston, MA, March 23 @ 5:30 am – 7:30 p.m. and Roswell’s Salute To The Troops-Carry The Fallen, March 24 @ 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Another big fundraiser coming up is the “Tough Ruck 2019” which honors military, police, firefighters, EMTs and first responders who have fallen in the line of duty. The walk a 26.2-mile course in either the Heavy (35-lb) or Light (15-lb) category. This event is coming up on April 14, 2019, at the  Old Manse, 269 Monument Street, Concord, MA (start/finish line), where the participants will raise money for the charity and if they finish the course, will be awarded a Boston Marathon medal.

So break up your training routine and support a good cause, there are plenty out there and take place nearly every weekend, especially since rucking has become the new cool thing for civilians to emulate the military.

It will not only help out those in need, but it will also break up your training regimen a bit and give yourself a chance to push your training a bit. There’s nothing like a bit of healthy competition to get the blood flowing.

Happy Rucking…DOL

Photo of Ben Skardon: DVIDS: