Annual Warriors Walk in New Lenox addresses PTSD stigma among veterans and service members

The fourth annual Warriors Walk, an event dedicated to raising awareness about and addressing the stigma associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among veterans and service members, is set to take place this weekend in New Lenox.

The event has grown substantially since its inception, which began with organizer Ryan Brazel undertaking a 20-mile solo ruck march in 2019.

Brazel, formerly a participant in a Chicago-based group, relocated to New Lenox and recognized the need to continue this initiative locally. 

The event aims to combat the concerning statistic that an average of 22 veterans commit suicide daily. To support veterans and service members facing mental health challenges, the event contributes to the Head-Strong Project, an organization assisting the Department of Veterans Affairs in its efforts to provide crucial mental health services.

In recent times, the Head-Strong Project's resources have been stretched thin due to the increasing number of veterans who suffer in silence and require counseling for suicide prevention. 

"This gets our [veterans] in front of a quality mental health professional much faster, which can help these veterans get to where they need to be a lot sooner," said Brazel.

Through a combination of ruck marches and walks, the initiative has successfully raised $54,000 for this essential cause. 

Those interested in joining this important effort can participate this Saturday at the New Lenox Commons, with registration commencing at 8 a.m. Additionally, a variety of family activities will be available in the afternoon.