'Hopefully we can make a difference': Edmonton veterans march for suicide prevention
The group wore 50-pound rucksacks on their backs as they trekked through snowy trails
More than 30 Canadian Armed Forces veterans marched through 22 kilometres of river valley trails carrying heavy rucksacks on Saturday to raise money for suicide prevention.
March organizer Ian Hall walked along a trail in Forest Heights Park, the snow crunching beneath his boots as the temperature dipped to -15 C. On his back was a rucksack covering a hoodie with the number 22 — a reference to the number of military veterans who die from suicide each day in the United States, he said.
Hall, 40, was a member of the Canadian Armed forces from 1995 to 2002 and served two tours in Bosnia.
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Now a city firefighter, Hall meets with his fellow veterans to do something each year for Remembrance Day that doesn't involve traditional ceremonies. During Saturday's march, he thought about a close friend and veteran who died from suicide.
"I can tell you the names of at least 10 people that I served with who that was their choice," Hall said. "It is a reality and I think by coming out and talking about it, raising money and getting groups together, hopefully we can make a difference."
I think by coming out and talking about it, raising money and getting groups together, hopefully we can make a difference.- Ian Hall
The group marched to Rundle Heights Park and back to Forest Heights Park, a trek that lasted around five hours. They raised more than $5,000 for Wounded Warriors Canada, a charity that runs programs and services for veterans and their families.
"They're willing to sacrifice their bodies today and their time to such a worthy cause. I'm very proud of this group," said Jamie Clover, regional ambassador for Wounded Warriors Canada
"Suicide is the end result of an injury that they achieved through work," Clover said. "I'd like to see us deal with that and properly support the men, the women, the families that are impacted by PTSD."