By Samantha Haase
GREEN BAY – Helping Out Our American Heroes (HOOAH) — a nonprofit with a goal of eliminating suicide in veterans — will host their 11th annual Veteran Suicide Awareness March on Saturday, Nov. 11.
HOOAH works to bring awareness to the issue, as well as bringing in funds to support the many programs that they offer.
“This event is one of the best days of the year for us. Seeing the community come together to support veterans and our mission is really inspiring,” said event organizer, William Kocken.
The annual Veteran Suicide Awareness March started in 2013, with about 70 participants and raised around $11,000.
The march has increased greatly since then with last year’s numbers including around 1,000 participants, raising around $164,000.
HOOAH offers a variety of programs for veterans in our community, including mental health counseling and on-time crisis assistance through the Warrior Wellness program.
The organization also offers fitness programs that include yoga, CrossFit, and scuba.
Chelsea Kocken, one of the organizers of the march, said, “Who knows, you might just meet your best friend in scuba.”
Every program that is offered is aimed at helping veterans develop healthy habits and establish a community where they feel that they belong.
All programs are free to veterans; there are no membership dues or fees.
Through community donations and local business offerings, veterans all over the area can find something to assist them.
The Veteran Suicide Awareness March is just one day in the year.
“We don’t just go away after [the march],” Chelsea added.
HOOAH makes sure that veterans have a community all year round, not just when there is an event.
The march will be held Saturday, Nov. 11, with registration closing on Nov. 8.
All registration payments go directly to supporting veterans and the programs that are offered by HOOAH.
The march begins at KI Convention Center, 333 Main St., Green Bay.
The event opens at 6:30 a.m. with the actual walk starting at 9 a.m.
There are two options for the walk; either 16.8 or 1.68 miles, with a welcome-back ceremony at 1 p.m. that includes food and drink.
“You never know what somebody is going through,” Chelsea said.
For more information, visit hooahwi.org.
Pass It Forward™ editorial is sponsored by Packers Give Back and Nicolet Bank.