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Oklahoma State University

Fourth annual Warrior Walk to include competitive categories

Wed, September 13, 2017
Veteran Student Academic Services Coordinator Rick Hansen and Amy Cole-Smith, director of Transfer and Veteran Student Academic Services, hold one of the trophies produced for this year’s Warrior Walk Against Veteran Suicide.

Organizers of the fourth annual Warrior Walk Against Veteran Suicide will offer more options for walkers this year, including competitive categories designed to bring attention and generate discussion about the high rate of suicides among military veterans in the U.S.  

“We were very encouraged by the level of participation we received last year and really wanted to act on the feedback we heard to make this bigger and better for the veterans we’re trying to help,” said Rick Hansen, retired U.S. Marine captain and coordinator for Veteran Student Academic Services at OSU. “With a suicide rate of up to 22 veterans a day, the war here at home is actually more dangerous than all our current combat missions around the world. It’s important to recognize the terrible toll suicide takes on our veterans and their families and reach out to help with this walk.”  

Again this year, the Red Dirt Military Moms, who started the walk in 2014, will partner with Veteran Student Academic Services at OSU to coordinate the event, set for Saturday, Sept. 16, starting at 7:30 a.m. at Boomer Lake, with registration tables opening at 6 a.m. Registration is $22 per individual or $25 on the day of the event. Proceeds will be used to send care packages to military service members deployed oversees during the Christmas Holidays, provide needed items to homeless veterans in our local shelters, and assist in funding visits of veterans in Oklahoma State Veterans Homes.  

Once the monetary goals for those efforts have been reached, a portion of the funds will be used to send OSU Student Veteran Organization representatives to the Student Veterans of American National Conference next January. The conference focuses on training local chapter leaders on ways to better serve their veteran student communities on campus.  

This year, in addition to the usual open category that allows anyone to walk as long or as short a distance as they wish around the walking trail that circles the lake, two competitive team categories, requiring seven members per team, have been added that include a flag relay and a back-pack or “ruck” relay of 22 miles. 

Depending on the category of competition chosen, the teams will be supplied with either a small U.S. flag, or a ruck, which is a 40-pound back pack. After completing the 3.1 mile lap around Boomer, the team member will pass either the flag or the ruck to the next member, until the 22 miles is completed.  

Teams competing in either the ruck or walk categories can enter in the Student Veterans Association (SVA) division or open division.  To register and compete in the SVA division all seven members of the team must be military veterans and also be students, staff, or faculty members in good standing with their registering institution of higher learning. All other teams will compete in the open division. A perpetual trophy will be awarded to the winning SVA and open division teams in both the ruck and walk categories. The winning institutions will display the appropriate trophy for one year, then return the trophies to be awarded at the 2018 Warrior Walk.  

The primary goal of Veterans Student Academic Services at OSU is to coordinate with campus, community, state and federal organizations and agencies to provide services to more than 850 veterans and military-affiliated students at OSU. The office is also in charge of the Veterans Success Center on campus, which offers student veterans a place to study, seek academic assistance and interact as they transition to college life. 

Register for the walk online at http://events.eventzilla.net/e/warrior-walk-against-veteran-suicide-2138929334. For more information, contact Rick Hansen at richard.hansen@okstate.edu or call (405) 744-1390.