Tag: Veterans

The ‘Masked Veteran’ Runs Across Iowa for Veteran Suicide Awareness

OTTUMWA, Iowa  --  The run is grueling. Over 200 miles in the bag with 80 miles still left to go.  It’s day eight of 10 for Joshua Jorgensen, the masked veteran.

On Wednesday, Joshua ran from Albia to Agency. Every step he takes moving forward, he’s wearing a military grade gas mask and what it represents.

"The struggle, you know, to me it’s a challenge. I like to challenge myself to these endurance events, but it’s also become a symbol of what these veterans struggle with when they’re struggling with PTSD," said Joshua.

With restricted breathing, Joshua is running across the state to raise awareness for veteran suicide rates due to PTSD. Every day, 20 veterans take their own lives as a result of PTSD and untreated depression. 

"I’m very proud of him…very proud of him, and it’s amazing that he can keep doing this. I can’t imagine 10 days in the mask, wind, and sun. It’s very impressive," said Joshua's cousin Michael Hoygens, who made Wednesday's run with him.

Along with his cousin, Joshua says he's been joined by other people along the trek.

"When I started out last Wednesday, I was self-supported, and that was the plan. I was going to make my way across the state by myself the best way I could, but I haven’t been by myself at all, and that’s the message that we’re trying to put out there, that there’s people out there that want to help and want to be there for you," said Joshua.

With two days left before he ends his run in Burlington, Joshua hopes his cross-state run will inspire other veterans who may be dealing with the scars of war we can’t see.

"This struggle is voluntary, but it represented the struggle that all veterans go through and are out there thinking, 'maybe I can’t see the finish line.' But it is there if they keep moving forwards and keep taking those steps towards it, they’ll make it," he said.

Joshua is being assisted on his run by Team Fidelis, a veteran mental health non-profit out of Kansas City.

Metro Organizations Partnering to Help Wounded Veterans

JOHNSTON, Iowa  --  A local shooting range is teaming up with a foundation to help wounded veterans.

The Puppy Jake Foundation provides services dogs to wounded or disabled military veterans. CrossRoads Shooting Sports in Johnston held a fundraiser on Saturday to help train more service dogs. Training and preparing the pups to help with daily tasks isn't cheap, but officials says their service can be life-changing.

“Before he had his dog, he couldn't leave his house. We always say these dogs aren't a magic pill. It’s not going to cure what ails them, but it's part of the solution to get their lives better,” said Simon Conway, a board member of the Puppy Jake Foundation.

Officials say it takes about 22 months and $20,000 to train a service dog before it is placed with its new owner.

Weekend-Long Event Benefiting Homeless Veterans

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Homeless veterans will get some help getting back on their feet this weekend.

Homeless Veterans Stand Down begins on Friday evening. It's open to veterans and non-veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. They will receive a hot meal and free clothes, plus access to services like help filing VA and other claims, medical screenings, dental care, and more.

Stand Down is from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.  on Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, and 8 a.m. to noon on Sunday. The event is set up at the old Des Moines General Hospital, between Des Moines Street and East 12th.

ROTC Members Honor Veterans on POW/MIA Awareness Run

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  State leaders and ROTC cadets honored a group of veterans on Friday morning.

"We are gathering here today for a solemn purpose and solemn remembrance. Our thoughts and prayers remain with our soldiers that have gone missing in action or have become prisoners of war, and those thoughts and prayers extend to their families, as well," said Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg.

The lieutenant governor spoke before the POW/MIA Awareness Run. Iowa State ROTC cadets took off from the capitol building at 9 a.m. and are running 35.8 miles to the Memorial Union on the Iowa State University campus. Once there, they will pay tribute to Iowa State students whose names are etched on the walls of the Gold Star Museum.

"A lot of pride. Especially what happened last time when we were all there, cars were honking at us, people were cheering and stuff, a lot of pride, a lot of honor, honestly. And then we get to see all the names in the Memorial Union, POW/MIA. Just to see that and think about what we're running for and have those people in mind," said Natalie Booroom of the Air Force ROTC.

Cadets paused for a rain delay but were expected to arrive at the Memorial Union around 3 p.m.

Veterans and Community Preparing for Honor Flight

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  On Monday evening, 250 Iowa veterans are preparing to leave for another Central Iowa Honor Flight.

Community members are gathering along Fleur Drive to show support for the veterans as they pass by on their way to a sendoff dinner.

The group will fly out of Des Moines early Tuesday morning for Washington D.C. and then return home in the evening.