Milwaukee U.S. veterans march for resilience in first 'Ruck March'

NOW: Milwaukee U.S. veterans march for resilience in first ’Ruck March’

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Wednesday, May 4, U.S. service members in the Milwaukee area came together and walked two miles on the Veteran Affairs grounds to display resilience and learn about resources offered to veterans.

The event invited veterans from all branches of the military to march with rucksacks filled with rocks. The rocks represented things that limit the resilience of the veterans.

The veterans collected the rocks at five points throughout the march. Later, the rocks were exchanged for conversations with veteran assistance programs.

"They're getting to meet new resource partners that can help them in their journey, helping them live their best lives," said Joe Sherwin, clinical chaplain with Veteran Affairs.

Conversations veterans said they were thankful for.

"Today was gratifying," said Charlie Walton, a Vietnam veteran.

Walton said the war made him who he is today.

"When I look back over my life and think about it, it was the best thing that could have ever happened to me, it's like it stripped me, broke me down, and rebuilt me," said Walton.

While his war experience shaped him, it also left some scars when he came back home.

"I found myself having a mental health problem. I thought it was from the drugs, but it was from PTSD, drugs and the rest of my life experiences," said Walton.

The rocks the veterans picked up came in different sizes; small, medium, large -- a visual representation of what some of the men and women had to endure after their time in service.

"For some of our veterans, just carrying a stone the size of their fist is all that they can manage, because this is really everything that captivates their attention, and weighs them down," said Sherwin.

The chaplain hoped this march would show the veterans they are not alone, and they have the support of their fellow service men and women, along with active agencies looking to help them foster a more fulfilling life.

"I recognized I'm not alone; where I'm at, what I'm doing, and what I'm going through to get to (a relaxed mind)," said Walton.

This was the first year for the march.

For more resources on veteran mental health assistance, click the link here.

Resources at Ruck March:

Captain John D Mason Veteran Peer Outreach Program

Vet Center

Bell Ambulance


VA emergency department

Whole Health

Veterans Benefit Administration

Veterans Health Administration

National Cemetery Administration, Woods National Cemetery

VAMC Mental Health

VA Public Contact & Outreach

VetsNet, ETS-SP

Post 9-11 Military2VA Case Management program

HAVEN, Hounds & Vets Empowered Now

9-Line Veteran Support Program

Community Engagement & Partnership Program - Mental Health


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