Army soldier on a ruck to raise awareness of veteran suicides

Mission of hope was kicked off
Published: Feb. 17, 2023 at 3:59 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 17, 2023 at 4:46 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The miles traveled by an Army soldier over the next few weeks will raise awareness about military suicide.

According to the organization Stop Soldier Suicide, the military suicide rate is 57% higher than the national average.

In a story only on Action 2 News, a local man talks about his mission of hope after a personal loss.

On his first day, he reported to followers on social media, “Good morning, everybody. Mike Aschinger coming to you on day one of the 60-mile ruck challenge.”

On any given morning in February, you’ll find Aschinger outside, rucking to raise awareness of veteran suicide.

“Negative 6 degrees,” he reported on his second day, “and I am out here, getting it down.”

Along with him is his a 60-pound backpack, a constant reminder of who he is doing this for.

“A person in crisis is like a person who has too much in their pack, and they may not feel like they can carry that pack and that weight,” Aschinger says to us. “We support each other. We hold each other up and help with the weight. But Stop Soldier Suicide helps remove that weight.”

Aschinger is a command sergeant major with the Army Reserve. After 24 years in the military, with 15 years in active duty, he says he’s lost a lot of soldiers to suicide, including his own father.

“The next note was my aunt that he was no longer with us, and I said, I missed on there. I missed an opportunity. I don’t hold it against myself, and no one should, but I am going to get good at this. I am going to learn how to see it and confront it, and I am going to make it my life goal to confront suicide directly.”

And that’s what he is doing right now, rucking -- walking with a heavy weight on his back -- to raise money for Stop Soldier Suicide. With $3.1 million last year, the organization provided 17,000 hours of care.

“Doesn’t matter discharge status -- to soldiers, airmen, sailors, Marines, whether in or out -- organizations like that are there. Those are the hours that count,” Aschinger said.

Mike surpassed his fundraising goal of $2,000. He’s going to surpass his goal of 60 miles rucked, too.

His last hike will end at the Brown County Veterans Memorial on Oneida St. on February 28.

“If you are there, and you feel alone and that weight on your shoulder, there are plenty of people like myself to help pick you up, and we will get you somewhere we can get that weight out of your bag.”

“Please support the cause. Hoorah,” Aschinger told his social media followers on day two.