A masked man will be running through the streets of Leavenworth this week.
But don’t alert the authorities.
The masked runner actually will be Joshua Jorgensen, a U.S. Army veteran who will be on the last leg of a 100-mile run to raise awareness about suicide.
Jorgensen will begin his journey Sept. 13 at Whitman Air Force Base near Knob Noster, Missouri, and conclude the trek Sept. 16 at the front gate at Fort Leavenworth.
According to a Department of Veteran Affairs report, 20 veterans each day commit suicide. The report indicated that approximately 14 of those 20 were not using VA services at the time of their death.
September is National Suicide Prevention Month.
In an effort to raise awareness, Jorgensen will run approximately 35 miles per day for four straight days.
And he will be running while wearing a gas mask.
“I was looking for something to challenge me and make it harder,” Jorgensen said. “It’s much harder to breathe wearing a gas mask. It’s like breathing through a straw. You have to really maintain your breathing pattern.”
Jorgensen said wearing the gas mask during his runs has become “a symbol of isolation and struggle.”
Long-distance runs are nothing new to Jorgensen. Last September, he ran 320 miles in 10 days across the state of Iowa in an effort to raise awareness about suicide.
Next week, the 39-year-old from Adel, Iowa, will take off on another long run through southwestern Missouri and eastern Kansas.
“It’s like he will be running about four marathons in four days,” said Dan Brazzell, a spokesman for Team Fidelis.
The event is a production of Team Fidelis, a nonprofit organization that aims to end “the epidemic of veteran suicide by raising awareness, providing a bridge of hope and building camaraderie between veterans and their community,” according to a press release.
A support vehicle with a medic aboard will escort Jorgensen along the way.
Jorgensen said the long awareness runs and other ultra endurance events are ways for him to deal with his own issues with post-traumatic stress disorder.
For more information, contact Brazzell at firstname.lastname@example.org