Team March Push-up challenge brings awareness to Veteran suicides

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U.S. Air Force photo/Linda Welz

More than 75 Team March members gathered near the main gate Friday morning, April 22, with a common goal – to bring awareness to the high rate of Veteran suicides by performing some push-ups. The event was dedicated to Elias Reyes Jr., brother of Master Sgt. Mario Reyes-Jauregui, 452nd Security Forces Squadron, who led the group as they counted off.

“A couple of years ago my brother ended his pain,” Reyes-Jauregui said. “I thought he was fine, like a lot of us think people are, and he wasn’t.”

Reyes-Jauregui’s brother served as a Marine (infantry) and completed three tours of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan before leaving the service, after which he attended college at the University of California, Los Angeles, earning his bachelor’s degree.

“I thought he was good, but that was a bad assumption on my part,” Reyes-Jauregui said. “He ended the pain (at the age of 27) and that was it. Unfortunately, that’s a statistic that is rampant in our nation now,” Reyes-Jauregui said. “We need to make that statistic a zero. We need to take care of our troops and stick together. We’re all a family. We’re all in this together.”

The Mission 22 push-up challenge is currently trending on social media. Unlike the previous water bucket challenge to raise money, this trend is simply to spotlight Veteran suicides in an effort to bring the number from 22 every day to zero.

Marvin Tucker, 452nd Emergency Management director, has been doing the Mission 22 Push-up Challenge for a few weeks, and challenged Chief Master Sgt. Deborah McGuane, 336th Air Refueling Squadron, to complete 22 push-ups in 22 days and post it each day to social media to help spread the word.

“This is a time to reach out,” Tucker said. “Every day 22 of our Veterans commit suicide, and we need to get that number to zero.”

“The 22nd of every month is supposed to be Buddy-check day,” McGuane said. “It is the day you are supposed to check on your buddies. This is here to raise awareness and empower those to make sure that they know that they have a purpose.”

You don’t have to be able to do regulation push-ups to help shed light on this tragedy and help eradicate Veteran suicides. To learn more, visit www.mission22.com.