PARIS, Ky. (LEX 18) — When the tour of duty ends, for many the battle is only just beginning.
“There are 22 veterans per day who commit suicide. That’s not a month. That’s not a year. That’s every day,” said Lane Goff.
Goff is an eight-year veteran of the United States Army.
“I’ve lost about one buddy per year. Some of it was in combat, some of it was in training, but a lot of it was to suicide,” he explained.
Goff had seen and heard enough, so he organized Monday's walk around the Paris bypass; 22 miles with 22-pound bags on their backs, and he called it a “Ruck to Remember.” Goff is hoping to bring awareness to one of America’s forgotten mental health crises.
“We’ve got veterans out here with us (walking), who’ve been blown up and had all kinds of issues during war, so we just wanted to get out in the community and raise the awareness,” he said of today’s event.
Dozens of walkers joined the 22-mile hike making three loops around the bypass, which took them through downtown Paris. Some completed all 22 miles, while others walked a shorter distance, but each was there with the best of intentions. And for that, Goff and his fellow veterans were thankful.
“I’m fighting it right now,” said Rodney Mitchell, an 18-year combat veteran. “I’m doing this making sure everybody’s aware of what’s going on. I go to therapy and keep myself busy with work,” Mitchell added before revealing that he’s battling a disability brought on by combat.
Bob Issacs wasn’t injured during his stint in Vietnam, but he knows plenty who were, including his brother.
“This is for the guys going through the unseen wars,” he said of the “Ruck to Remember.”
Those “unseen” wars are killing an average of 22 of our veterans, daily.
“Fighting the war in here now,” Mitchell added while pointing to his head.