Former Army military police Sgt. Josh Geartz is riding 422 miles to raise awareness about the 20 veterans who take their own lives every day, according to the latest Department of Veterans Affairs data. He chose 422 miles deliberately to represent the formerly held figure, which suggested that 22 veterans a day are lost to suicide.
But unlike other veterans who participate in similar treks, he isn’t running, or riding on a bicycle, or swimming. Instead, Geartz is riding in his wheelchair.
Geartz learned firsthand what it means to be a veteran battling suicidal ideation. After joining the Army in 1999, he was hit by an improvised explosive device in September 2003 while deployed in Iraq during the invasion. His injuries left him with partial paralysis in both legs, numerous blood clots, spinal stenosis, and after battling traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder for more than a decade, Geartz decided in 2014 that he did not want to live.
“Being one of the first guys coming back from the invasion in Iraq, the VA didn’t really know too much, and they didn’t know how to treat TBI,” Geartz told Task & Purpose. “You don’t want to reach out to your friends because you’re embarrassed about how you’re living, and that’s how I felt."
After one failed suicide attempt, Geartz considered a second.
“Everything was just so overwhelming,” Geartz told Newsmax. “It came to a point when I had to admit that I wasn’t able to care for myself or my son. That was the hardest thing that I ever had to do. I had been through countless therapies, programs and other treatments. Nothing seemed to help.”
To pay it forward, Geartz riding his wheelchair in this 422-mile marathon along the Great Lakes from Indiana to New York while trying to drum up awareness about veteran suicide and raise money for the two organizations that gave him his life back.
Every once in a while, we run across a photo in The Times-Picayune archives that's so striking that it begs a simple question: "What in the name of Momus Alexander Morgus is going on in this New Orleans photograph?" When we do, we've decided, we're going to share it — and to attempt to answer that question.
Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces control the monitor of their drone at their advanced position, during the fighting with Islamic State's fighters in Nazlat Shahada, a district of Raqqa. (Reuters/Zohra Bensemra)
MUSCAT (Reuters) - The United States should keep arming and aiding the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) following the planned U.S. withdrawal from Syria, provided the group keeps up the pressure on Islamic State, a senior U.S. general told Reuters on Friday.
Long before Tony Stark took a load of shrapnel to the chest in a distant war zone, science fiction legend Robert Heinlein gave America the most visceral description of powered armor for the warfighter of the future. Forget the spines of extra-lethal weaponry, the heads-up display, and even the augmented strength of an Iron Man suit — the real genius, Heinlein wrote in Starship Troopers, "is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it, like your clothes, like skin."
"Any sort of ship you have to learn to pilot; it takes a long time, a new full set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking," explains Johnny Rico. "Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians. But a suit, you just wear."
First introduced in 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) purported to offer this capability as America's first stab at militarized powered armor. And while SOCOM initially promised a veritable Iron Man-style tactical armor by 2018, a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose the much-hyped exoskeleton will likely never get off the launch pad.
"The prototype itself is not currently suitable for operation in a close combat environment," SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Phillip Chitty told Task & Purpose, adding that JATF-TALOS has no plans for an external demonstration this year. "There is still no intent to field the TALOS Mk 5 combat suit prototype."