Next time you complain about a ruck march, consider Capt. Justin Fitch.
The colon cancer-stricken soldier in Natick, Mass., ruck marches for fun, to heal, and to raise money to combat veteran suicide.
“One thing that I have been able to rely on through rehabilitation, in exercise therapy, almost like a meditative state, is ruck marching,” Fitch said when recently spotlighted on Army.mil.
Fitch tries to ruck to work at least twice a month. He recently rucked nine-and-a-half miles with 80 pounds on his back in just over three hours.
On Oct. 18, Fitch finished his 23rd round of chemotherapy.
“The last time I came in was 72 pounds; I think 65 was the time before that. Just about a week and half ago, I took 85 pounds on a five-mile ruck around my house to try to build up that kind of strength and endurance,” Fitch said.
“I’m also being careful not to wear myself into the ground because I have to balance recovery from chemotherapy, not over-train, and recovering from when I do train.”
He commands the headquarters R&D detachment at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center.
Through ‘Active Heroes’ he raises money for a ‘Carry the Fallen’ campaign to raise money and awareness to combat suicide in veterans.
Veterans Day weekend, Fitch will be among hundreds of people rucking for 12 hours for the campaign.
The effort will raise money for financial support, counseling and retreats for veterans in need.
His team, Team Minuteman, plans to ruck from Hopkinton, Mass., to Boston, where they will follow the Boston Marathon route.
“Since I have started this campaign, I have had soldiers that I have worked with in the past, [and]people that I’ve never talked to in my life, become very open with me about how important it is to them,” Fitch said.
“They lost their buddy or they lost their brother, or their father committed suicide. It’s pretty dark to hear these things, but it’s good that they’re talking about it.”