AUBURN, Michigan (WNEM) — The Great Lakes Bay Veterans Coalition hosted a 22-mile ruck across the Auburn area on Memorial Day.

“Just to see everybody work so hard for 22 miles in this heat today, it’s an amazing feeling to see everybody complete,” said one of the organizers Terry Hanley.

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Escorted by the Michigan State Police, participants walked the course with a weighted backpack to remember the 22 veterans who die by suicide every day.

“22 a day right now. And we’re tired of losing people to suicide. We can get you help, just make the call,” Hanley said.

Proceeds from the ruck will go to Blue Star Service Dogs. The organization rescues and trains support dogs for veterans with PTSD and traumatic brain injury.

Dog trainer Trish Barnes said these four-legged friends have a positive impact on the lives of veterans.

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“Something easy for us, just going to a grocery store, veterans have a hard time doing. Going on vacation with their family, going to a baseball game to watch their kids, going to a school event, they’re able to feel secured to be able to go to those functions with their family now,” Barnes said.

This group endured hot temperatures and an unforgiving sun to complete their task. It is something that Barnes appreciates.

“They are amazing. Thank you for what you guys are doing. Thank you for taking the time out to honor the fallen soldiers that we’ve lost,” Barnes said.

After the ruck, it was time to celebrate with 22 pushups. Hanley said he is overwhelmed by the support this event receives from participants and the community.

“You did an awesome job today. Thank you so much for coming out and we’ll see you next year hopefully,” Hanley said.

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