A group of military-connected Virginia Western Community College students designed and completed a 22 kilometer hike, carrying 22 pounds of gear on Friday (4/22/16) to support a nation-wide initiative to end the 22 suicides committed by U.S. veterans daily due to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The group hoped to raise awareness of the suicide epidemic among veterans and gain community support to stop it.

Participating in the hike were Matt Jones, Mark Shelton, Kevin Yopp andTommy Sochor. The group has an event Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/events/143553326044820/. You can learn more about this national initiative through an organization called Mission 22 at: http://www.mission22.com/.

In addition, the students promoted the third annual Boots2Books 5k race that will be held on and around Virginia Western’s campus on Friday, May 6 and begin after 8 p.m. The nighttime glow run was conceived and developed by members of the Virginia Western Armed Forces Student Association and it will benefit the Virginia Western Educational Foundation’s Veterans Assistance Fund.

Participants can find details about registration at www.virginiawestern.edu/community/boots2books.php. The registration fees are: general public runner, $30; general public team runner, $25; VCCS student or employee, $20; walker, $20; 1-mile fun run for children under 13, $15.

The certified 5k race course will begin on Virginia Western’s campus and feature challenging climbs through the adjoining Jefferson Hills neighborhood before finishing back at the college. Runners are encouraged to come in costumes and bring glow in the dark accessories to really stand out.

The Veterans Assistance Fund is an emergency fund for military and veteran students to provide financial support to cover the cost of books, emergency educational expenses or other financial needs in the case of a life-changing event and to support the mission of the Armed Forces Student Association. The mission of Armed Forces Student Association is to assist new military and veteran students with adapting to college and civilian life. The Association provides a positive social environment for new military and veteran students as well as brings an understanding of military life to the faculty and other students at Virginia Western. Members of the community can find information about supporting the Veterans Assistance Fund and other student assistance funds by visiting: http://www.virginiawestern.edu/foundation/assistance.php.