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Rucking for vets

With one trekker carrying the American flag leading the way, more than a dozen participants--and one dog--began an 8 1/2 -mile journey Saturday morning at the UND Armory, hauling at least $520 worth of nonperishable food to the Northlands Rescue ...

BJ Arellano stuffs his pack with cans of Campbell's mushroom soup Saturday morning before a Ruck March for Homeless Veterans in Grand Forks. (Jesse Trelstad/Grand Forks Herald)
BJ Arellano stuffs his pack with cans of Campbell's mushroom soup Saturday morning before a Ruck March for Homeless Veterans in Grand Forks. (Jesse Trelstad/Grand Forks Herald)

With one trekker carrying the American flag leading the way, more than a dozen participants-and one dog-began an 8½-mile journey Saturday morning at the UND Armory, hauling at least $520 worth of nonperishable food to the Northlands Rescue Mission in downtown Grand Forks.

The walk signified the Ruck March for Homeless Veterans, the first of its kind for Grand Forks. Led by the Grand Forks American Legion Post 6 and Team Red, White and Blue of Grand Forks, the event invited military members, veterans and community members to carry backpacks and stretchers full of food around the community as a way to raise awareness for veterans who are homeless.

"We are carrying the load or helping to carry the load to take care of the homeless and homeless veterans in the area," said Bob Green, commander for the American Legion Post 6 in Grand Forks.

Green said he came up with the idea after attending a GORUCK leadership training camp in September, where he learned to put on a GORUCK event.

The American Legion in Grand Forks has donated food to Northlands Rescue in the past to help meet the demand for items for its Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. After driving back from the leadership event, Green thought it would be a good idea to combine the donation with a ruck event.

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The group carrying the food-backpacks weighed between 10 and 30 pounds-worked as a team, making sure to look out for each other on the 8½-mile journey.

"I do have one person who said he bought a 40-pound bag of rice that he is putting in his," Green said.

The group had four stops for breaks-Tim Horton's, Wendy's on South Washington Street, Northlands Rescue and the Grand Forks County Building. At each stop the group was briefed, with someone reading a couple of paragraphs about veteran homelessness, suicide, suicide prevention efforts and services of Northlands Rescue.

The journey wrapped up at UND's Memorial Union.

Team Red, White and Blue is a community organization aimed at bringing veterans, military members and community members together, Green said. He said he would like to do the event four times a year with a different topic each time. He suggested doing a ruck event in the winter time that would center around the Korean War.

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