Last year, many of you read my thoughts on the internet sensation known as #22pushupchallenge or #22KILL. I wasn’t against the challenge, and I’m certainly not against raising awareness about veteran suicide, but I still contend that such public displays need to be accompanied by substantive action.
In 2014, buckets full of ice water set the internet on fire. People were challenged to dump a bucket of ice water over their heads, post the video to social media, then challenge others to do the same in order to help those with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS, often known by its older name, Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The campaign was tailor-made to take advantage of the viral nature of the web.
Derek Weida, founder of Straight Legless Clothing, doesn’t speak for all veterans, but he does speak for a certain type. His audience is largely shared by a growing number of military-oriented companies, organizations, and blogs that celebrate, rather than lament, the experience of being a veteran in post-9/11 America. It’s an audience that could be described, bluntly and without risk of causing offense, as a bunch of unapologetic grunts.