Twenty-two pushups for twenty-two days. It’s a small gesture but one that can make a resounding impact on the lives of veterans.
Initiated by the U.S. non-profit group “22Kill“ the 22 pushup challenge is a social media campaign to bring attention to the plight of veterans battling post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and veteran suicide.
The task is simple, people are asked to do 22 pushups for 22 days and post videos of themselves completing the challenge on social media while challenging others along the way.
“To me, it’s of the utmost importance because at the end of the day our warriors raise their right hand and promise to defend this precious thing we all take for granted called freedom. They risk life and limb to do it then they come home and suffer because unfortunately, our government does not hold up their end of the deal to help them when they get out of the military and try to adapt to civilian life ” said Jacob Schick, Executive Director of 22Kill and a former Marine.
Schick is an Iraq War veteran who was severely wounded while conducting combat operations and was diagnosed with PTSD.
Schick hopes that the campaign will pressure lawmakers to make decisions that will benefit veterans.
Launched in 2013, the 22 Pushup Challenge initially reached more than 20,000. It’s grown rapidly in the past three years, and the organization hopes to amass 22 million pushups.
“It’s catching on, luckily. It’s like any other thing. This is what I tell people a common problem remains a common problem until it becomes common knowledge,” noted Schick.
The number 22 represents the estimated 22 veterans who commit suicide each day in the U.S.
“I would just tell anyone who reads this, whether they are in Canada or America, and they are struggling, I would really encourage them to say something don’t be afraid to tell somebody you’re struggling because the only thing worse than struggling is struggling alone. I don’t know a lot, but I do know this, this life is absolutely worth living,” said Schick.
22Kill raises awareness about the epidemic of warrior suicide and offers traditional and nontraditional methods of healing mental illness for both veterans and their families. The 22 Pushup Challenge is a crucial campaign to create further awareness.
People across the U.S. have answered the call and take up the challenge, along with many Canadians.
“As a preamble to the video of me doing the pushups, I talk a little about what it’s about, in commemoration of the 22 service people that may take their lives today, to try to convince them and others that if you’re struggling in that fashion that committing suicide is a very permanent response to a very temporary situation” said Chris Linford who served for 33 years in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and was released in 2014 for PTSD.
Linford also battled with suicidality himself and encouraged those that are struggling to reach out and talk to others.
He also hopes the campaign can make a difference for Canadian veterans.
“I would like to think that the more we speak about positive things that people are doing surrounding the impact of PTSD, I believe that truly reduces the stigmatization of the injury. The more we talk about the negativity or all the thing that aren’t going right the more it builds,” said Linford, who also founded Couples Overcoming PTSD Everyday (COPE).