Twenty-two push-ups. It is a small gesture, but it is driving a popular campaign on social media to raise needed awareness about a heartbreaking problem: suicide among our veterans.
The number 22 was chosen to represent the average number of veterans who commit suicide every day, based on data from recent years. Although a new analysis of veteran suicide rates released by the Department of Veterans Affairs revealed that the number has since decreased to 20, the number is still far too high. In 2014, the most recent year in the VA report, there were 7,403 suicides by veterans of the U.S. military.
I am among those taking part in the 22 push-up challenge, which is supported by a number of veterans groups. One nonprofit organization in particular, 22Kill, has a goal of reaching 22 million push-ups, counted by the use of the hashtag #22Kill on social media. Millions of push-ups have already been counted toward this target. Others are doing 22 push-ups for 22 days – a goal initiated by a U.S. Army veteran to broaden participation and encourage donations.