Auburn University and University of Alabama Student Veterans Host ‘2022 Operation Iron Ruck’ Ahead of Iron Bowl | Zack love

Ahead of one of the biggest rivalry games in the state of Alabama (The Iron Bowl), veterans from both schools march for a cause that helps veterans who need help with their mental health.

backpack marchPhoto ofWisconsin National Guard

It is important that everyone has access to mental health professionals, especially the brave men and women who serve in our nation’s military.

WAFF 48 news reported Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a proclamation declaring November 23, 2022 as “Operation Iron Ruck Day” in the state of Alabama.

She said the following:

“The sacrifice of our military never ends in combat. Even when our military members return home, many are struggling with the effects of war in exchange for our protected freedoms. To see our state’s student veterans put aside their college rivalries, unite, and participate in this challenging journey to create greater awareness of veteran suicide is admirable and shows our loyalty to the veteran community in Alabama is evident is strong.” -Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (Source: WAFF 48 News, The Office of the Alabama Governor)

WAFF 48 news reported that “Alabama has one of the highest veteran suicide rates in the nation. More than 10% of the state’s population, or approximately 400,000 citizens, are veterans. However, they account for a disproportionate 18% of suicides. For example, in 2020, 152 of these veterinarians took their own lives.”

Auburn and the University of Alabama come together for a good cause

WAFF 48 news reported that starting Wednesday, November 23, 2022, student veterans from Auburn and the University of Alabama (UA) will be uniting for a cause: Suicide Prevention for Veterans.

This event is hosted by UA’s Crimson Legion and the Auburn Veterans Service Association.

Kent Davis, Commissioner for the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs, shared his thoughts on the importance of this issue.

He said:

“It speaks volumes that the Alabama and Auburn fraternities put aside their rivalry during Iron Bowl week to work together to raise awareness of veteran suicide.” -Kent Davis, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs (Source: WAFF 48 News)

Clayton Buchanan of the Auburn Student Veterans Association personally knew someone — his roommate, a Navy veteran — who was struggling with mental health issues, and no one knew what he was dealing with.

Clayton remembers his friend Josh as the “happiest guy alive,” but no one knew what he was dealing with inside. Unfortunately, Josh took his own life. Clayton will march at the 2022 Iron Ruck March to honor his friend and other veterans who lost their lives to mental health issues.

2022 Operation Iron Ruck March from Auburn to Tuscaloosa

The march begins at Jordan-Hare Stadium and will cover approximately 156 miles, ending at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa before the Iron Bowl. They will carry 22 blank dog tags and 22-pound backpacks filled with donated items on the trip, which will be given to charities that help the state’s veterans in need.

By car, most maps show it’s about 155.7 miles using Interstate I-85 S and US-82 West.

Mental health: It’s better to have the conversation

Mental health can be a touchy subject, but it’s important to talk about.

2022 Operation Iron Ruck is designed to help veterans get the help they need when struggling with their mental health. It’s not always obvious or obvious when someone is going through a difficult time with their mental health. Sometimes it’s just a matter of asking the simple question, “How are you?” or “I’m here if you need someone to talk to” to get the conversation going.

Our veterans are important, and giving them the help they need should be a priority.

Please share this on social media so those who need it can start this important conversation with family, friends and healthcare professionals.


Sally Pitts. “The Iron Ruck march aims to raise awareness of veteran suicide prevention.” WAFF 48 news. November 22, 2022.

The Office of Alabama Governor Kay Ivey: “Operation Iron Ruck Day”.