CHICAGO - With Memorial Day around the corner, one Chicago veterans group is preparing for their biggest fundraiser of the year.
The daily average of veterans who die by suicide has dropped, but the pandemic put a huge dent in services.
The big event later this month aims to show veterans they are not alone.
The Chicago Veterans Ruck March is 17 miles and raises money for veterans in need — 17 miles representing how many veterans die each day from suicide.
"The Ruck March is basically bringing awareness and it's also giving soldiers a therapeutic value that they can wear their lost soldiers picture, they can do it in their honor," said Carlos Vega, Veteran Outreach and Events Coordinator. "And also bring awareness that PTSD is an issue and it needs to be addressed."
For eight years, the organization Chicago Veterans has hosted 300 community events in 45 Chicagoland communities.
"This is all about keeping us together as a team. One team, one fight. We're all fighting one mission. We're all battling ourselves," said Army veteran Armando Vega, Organizer of Veterans in Recovery.
Vega has been sober for seven months. Through Chicago Veterans, he launched the Veterans in Recovery program. Money from the fundraiser helps keep the program going.
"It's all about paying it forward, helping others and ain’t nothing better than helping another brother or sister veteran," Vega said.
For more information about the Ruck March on Saturday, May 28, head to ChicagoVets.org.
Veterans in Recovery meets every first and third Sunday of the month. There's information on the website about that group as well.