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Elmwood community gathers to walk in honor of local veteran

More than 100 people came out to take part in the walk Saturday morning.
More than 100 people came out to take part in the walk Saturday morning.(25 News / Heart of Illinois ABC)
Published: May. 28, 2022 at 11:05 PM CDT
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ELMWOOD (Heart of Illinois ABC) - A national fundraiser, aimed at raising awareness of veteran PTSD, found a place in Elmwood Saturday to honor a local veteran.

The ‘Ruck 22′ march is held every year, and local organizers hosted it Saturday in memory of John Pettit, an Elmwood High School graduate who served as a medic in the army.

Pettit struggled with PTSD and passed away from a heart attack. On what would’ve been his birthday, more than 100 people came out to walk in support of him and his family.

“He spent several tours in Afghanistan, and he came home and suffered severely with PTSD. But he did not receive the correct treatment for it,” John’s mother, Gerri Pettit, said.

The Ruck 22 is split into three separate categories: a 22-mile, a 2.2-mile, and a six-mile route.

Participants were encouraged to walk as much or as little as they’d like, and when all was said and done, everyone gathered to break bread and discuss why the event is so important.

“22 veterans a day commit suicide - that’s why it is ‘22′. And ‘ruck’ stands for rucksack - the bag they carry when they are walking, doing their marches, and carrying 60-65 pounds on their backs,” Elmwood resident and VFW member Dimitri Beres said.

Participants also got to meet a few service dogs who are being trained in Chillicothe to assist veterans who struggle with PTSD.

Organizers say they hope to make the Ruck 22 an annual event in Elmwood.

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