Soldier raises awareness of military suicide

A soldier from Oak Harbor carrying a backpack and an American flag made his way on foot to Tiffin Monday afternoon to honor veterans and raise awareness of military suicide.

Army soldier Michael Lattea, who founded Ruck for Warriors, a non-profit organization that supports veteran suicide prevention by “rucking from place to place,” chose the Tiffin Police and Fire All Patriots Memorial as his destination because of its meaning and dedication to veterans. He arrived at the memorial around 2 p.m. Monday.

“It’s in honor of all the vets who gave the ultimate sacrifice,” Lattea said.

Lattea, who walked Monday on a broken ankle, said he began the trek from Fremont at 10:30 a.m. and got a lot of recognition along the way.

“This one was a little cold, but we got a lot of honks along the way,” he said.

Lattea, who served in Iraq twice and is a suicide survivor, said he started the organization in August.

“A big part is suicide awareness,” Lattea said. “The statistics are high for military suicide. There’s an average of 23 a day.”

Lattea said he already has made several trips since the organization’s launch, the first being a ruck from Oak Harbor to Cleveland. He said the 120-mile trip took three and a half days. Lattea said one night during the trip, he and the other soldiers who joined him slept in a cornfield.

Bill Berry, a Navy veteran who joins Lattea for many of the rucks, said during a walk from Oak Harbor to Sandusky, it rained for three hours. Still, they trekked on.

Berry said he did not walk Monday, but drove to Tiffin beside Lattea.

“It’s important we remember who we are and where we come from,” Berry said.

Lattea said his next ruck is scheduled for Saturday. He will walk from Oak Harbor to Bowling Green State University.