A Marine Corps and Army veteran is making his rounds to all 50 states to do 50 push-ups in each state’s capital city in hopes of raising awareness for veteran’s suicide.
Darren Hafford started his journey at the Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas on July 4th.
Friday, Aug. 13th, Hafford will be at the capitol in Baton Rouge at 7:30pm to do his 50 push-ups in Louisiana. Anyone is welcome to go watch him or do push-ups alongside him.
“I’m trying to raise awareness and funding for veteran’s suicide. I’m also trying to bring people together. There is so much division in this country right now. We’re the United States of America, not the Divided States of America,” said Hafford.
Hafford drives to each state’s capitol, waits till 7:30pm in hopes of catching people after they’re done with their daily chores.
In 2012, the Dept. of Veterans Affairs released a report that 22 veterans commit suicide daily. In 2015, a few marines started doing 22 push-ups to bring awareness to that number. That’s where Hafford said he got the idea from and decided to do 50 push-ups in all 50 states instead of 22.
Hafford is raising money (donate now) and selling shirts (buy shirt) with most of the donations going to 1 Tribe Foundation, an organization that helps veterans and all first responders with counseling and suicide prevention. The organization was called 22Kill and helped veterans only. Then, they realized there was as much a need for help with first responders so they changed their name to 1 Tribe Foundation, based in Dallas, TX. A portion of the donations will go to pay for Hafford’s trip. Once the trip is paid off, anything over that goes to the foundation.
The veteran will be on day 41 of 50 when he stops in Baton Rouge on Friday. After Louisiana, Hafford said he still has to go to Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma before flying to Alaska and then Hawaii to finish out his 50 days.
In total, he will have driven 13,280 miles in 50 days. Hafford said so far, it’s been worth it.
“I ran into a veteran in Georgia who told me he’s tried to commit suicide three times. I’m just giving back and trying to help my fellow veterans. Sometimes all it takes is someone to talk to. I’ve had mothers come up and hug me saying their veteran sons killed themselves and they just wanted to talk,” said Darren Hafford
Hafford said Covid made many people realize how easy it is to fall into depression and for veterans and first responders, it’s even worse. Mental health awareness was brought to the forefront and it’s something people cannot ignore.
“We often hear we support our veterans but what are you actually doing to support them? We need people to actually step up and donate to truly support our veterans,” said Hafford. “I really was hoping by now I would have sold even more tee-shirts and had a lot more donations.”
To veterans, if you ever need to talk to someone, you can call the Veterans Crisis line at 1-800-273-8255.
“If you’re having a tough time, please reach out to someone. It could save your life. The world is a much better place with you in it. That’s why you’re here. We’d like to keep you around,” Hafford said.
He closed out saying, “Be a better person tomorrow than you were today. We all start doing that, we’ll change the world. Take care of yourself and those around you.”