22 Push-Ups For Veteran Suicide Awareness

by GABRIELLA DEPINHO, Asst. News Editor

On Monday, Sept. 17, Manhattan College’s Student Veteran Organization hosted the 22 Push-Up Challenge at noon on the main quadrangle.

A group of approximately 30 students gathered on the quad to partake in the challenge, which is an initiative to raise awareness of the fact that approximately 22 veterans die by suicide each day and to raise awareness about the general issue of suicide.

Before the pushups started, the SVO’s president, senior Michael Giraldo spoke for a moment to the group gathered there about the statistics behind the Push-Up Challenge. He then led the count as the group did the pushups in unison.

Michael Giraldo also spoke on why it was important that they were doing the challenge, especially in the middle of the day with veterans and non-veterans alike.

“Suicide is a very taboo conversation to have. We felt like we can use the veterans to bring awareness to the issue,” said Giraldo, “We’re student veterans, we’re all going through the same stuff together and it gets hard at time but today we’re just here to be together.”

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Approximately 30 students gathered on the quad to raise awareness of the fact that approximately 22 veterans die by suicide each day. GABRIELLA DEPINHO / THE QUADRANGLE

This is not the first year Manhattan has partaken in the challenge. The challenge has been circulating the nation for a while and takes different formats, such as 22 PushUps as a group or a daily 22 pushups for 22 consecutive days.

Jonathan Hoogerhyde, a senior Marine Corps veteran, shared a bit more of the challenge’s history.

Hoogerhyde said, “This event came about, it’s been around in the military for a little while now, the 22 PushUp Challenge and it’s basically a response to veteran suicide which is a very real epidemic for a lot of people who leave active duty, especially with the longest period of American warfare right now, the war on terror.

He continued.

“We have a lot of veterans who come back with mental health issues after combat, PTSD and things of that nature, that makes it very difficult for them to adjust back to civilian life.”

Tiana Sloan, the Director of Veterans Success, was hired to Manhattan College with the opening of the Veterans’ Success Center. Supporting the veterans is her every day job and this event was no different.

“[My job is] a little bit of everything. It’s being able to assess our student veterans, help with their programs, organizing and reaching out to alumni on their behalf, being able to work with them on resumes, on their careers and just setting them up,” said Sloan, “Our student veterans are integrated on campus here but they’re still a little different.”

At the end of the day, students of all types – veterans, athletes, and traditional students – came together for a small event that hopefully opens everyone’s eyes to a larger issue.

“This is an event to raise awareness about the issue specifically for those in the military but also in a broader sense suicide, depression and all of those things. This is something the veteran club on campus thought was an important thing to raise awareness for but really it’s just a local realization of something that’s a nationwide issue,” said Hoogerhyde.