Fuel Logistics Coordinator and U.S. Military Veteran Brandon Spakowski shares his passion for supporting veteran’s mental health and his involvement with the Chicago Veterans Ruck March.
Every single day in the U.S., according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 20 veterans commit suicide. It’s a harrowing statistic, and one that veterans, family members and friends aim to raise awareness about and work to change.
Brandon Spakowski, Logistics Coordinator at Fuel’s Chicago office, and a veteran himself, is passionate about the issue, “Two doors down from me in barracks, a soldier committed suicide. I knew the guy. Soldiers come home with PTSD and don’t know where to go for support.”
With the goal of ending the current epidemic, every Memorial Day weekend, the Chicago Veterans association puts on the 20-mile Chicago Veterans Ruck March to raise awareness and funds that go toward creating more resources for veterans.
A ruck march, as Spakowski explains, refers to a training exercise used to prepare soldiers for combat and involves walking and jogging with rucksacks weighing up to 120 pounds for more than 20 miles. “Because of the statistic, [at the march] people walk for 20 miles carrying 20-pound rucksacks to represent the 20 veterans a day who have suffered,” says Spakowski. “With each mile, you get that strong emotional feeling that you’re carrying them on your back, each step, each mile.”
Spakowski hopes advocacy will raise awareness and encourage others to participate. “I want to bring people to the event. I want them to see what I see, and I want them to pay it forward like I am,” he explains.
Visit Chicago Veterans to sign up or donate.