Attention Ruck Marchers

Due to the two natural disasters currently effecting our nation a significant number of local EMS personnel have been deployed to provide assistance elsewhere, leaving those remaining in our community stretched to the max. These volunteers have been the logistical backbone of the march over the last three years.

At this time we need to make a decision on the Long Route. As of this moment we only have two marchers committed to the 24.8 miles. Unless we get a significant increase soon, we cannot in good conscience ask EMS workers to donate such a large amount of time and service. If you are willing to make a firm commitment to the Long Route we need to hear from you by Wednesday September 13th. Thank you for your understanding and service.

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Ruck March Preparation

Preventative Maintenance.

Preparation is key. If you do not conduct a few training ruck marches, you miss the opportunity to iron out some of the common mistakes people make.

1. Toughen your feet.

Make sure you take time to break in your boots. You need to identify friction points that can lead to blisters. Additionally, if your boots are too small then your feet will rub as they swell and can lead to injury.

Even with the right boots, you may still develop hot-spots. Cover these with moleskin to prevent friction from blistering your feet. If you over pronate or over supinate your feet (rolling outward or inward) it will show in how your boots wear, especially on the heel.

This wear pattern can tell you if you are at risk of developing plantar faciitis or iliotibial band friction syndrome. Both conditions are painful, and will sideline you fast.

2. Socks.

If your feet are used to rucking and you have broken in the right pair of boots, you should be able to ruck with only one pair of socks on. Too many layers will cause your feet to sweat. This will soften your feet and cause blistering.

Bring several pairs of socks, as well as extra moleskin. Be prepared to change socks as your feet sweat. Additionally, you can use spray-on anti-perspirant to keep your feet dry.

Foot powder is fine for after a ruck. Putting it in your socks will only lead to muddy socks, and your feet will suffer for it.

3. Start light.

Even if you have rucked before, you will want to start at a comfortable level for self-assessment. If you have any trouble-areas, they will come out. Pay attention to your load-out. If the weight is not well distributed, it will put stress on your back and shoulders.

Additionally, if you have flexibility issues that can lead to knee, hip, or groin injuries it will become apparent after even a short, light ruck. Shin splints are also common, as the heel-toe style of walking puts the tibialis anterior (forward muscle; shin) into what is called dorsiflexion. Just imagine how you would feel if you flexed your biceps as hard as you could for several hours . . .

4. Boot lacing.

There are three main techniques that Infantry Soldiers use to lace their boots for comfort and support: The Army pattern, the Ladder pattern, and the Straight Bar.

Try each of them to see which one works best for you.

5. Gym Prep.

There are a number of exercises that can help prepare you for the arduous task of carrying heavy weight over a distance. Squats, deadlifts, lunges and split-squats will built leg, back, and knee strength as well as flexibility.

Standing calf raises will build the gastrocnemius, the powerful muscle at the top of the calf. Seated calf raises will focus more on the soleus, which runs from knee to ankle. Lastly, reverse calf raises will help develop the tibialis anterior and prevent shin splints.

6. Recommended Items.

  • Hat: Soak up sweat, keep the sun out of your eyes.
  • Extra Socks: Dry socks will keep your feet in fighting shape. Fox River and Darn Tough are two recommended brands. They may seem pricy for a sock, but I can vouch for both as worthwhile investments.
  • Spare T-shirts: You will want a dry shirt or two, and a change of underoos. Consider bringing a small mesh laundry bag to put your wet clothes in.
  • Sun-screen/Chapstick: Spend enough time outside in the sun and wind and you will chap and burn.
  • Baby wipes: You’ll want to wipe the salty sweat off when you’re done to prevent rashes and chaffing.
  • Water source: There will be water points along the course, but you will want a Nalgene bottle or something that you can secure to your gear. A 100-oz bladder is recommended. You can get them cheap on Amazon.
  • Reflective Belt: Soldiers hate wearing them, but it’s a good thing to have for visibility on the course.
  • Body Glide: No one likes chaffing. Vaseline also works in a pinch.
  • Flip Flops/Shower Shoes: Once you finish, your feet will be swollen. Let your feet air out.
  • Chewing Gum: Trust me on this one. Never ruck without it.
  • Energy Source/Electrolytes: Experienced endurance athletes can attest to the awful feeling of hitting the wall. In addition to water, you will want to carry a little back-up energy. Your body will burn through your glycogen stores first, the sugar in your muscles, before switching to glucose and bodyfat.

Gatorade makes gel-packets and chewable gummies that can help you going. HammerGel is another favored by tri-athletes and distance runners. Emergen-C makes powdered drink mix packets that will add flavor and electrolytes to your water source. Mio makes something similar in a liquid form.

7. Prepare for the weather.

If the forecast calls for rain, make sure you water-proof anything you don’t want to get wet. Roll t-shirts and socks into gallon-sized zip-lock bags. Pack a light wind-breaker, poncho, or other waterproof cover just in case.

If it seems unseasonably cold, be prepared with layers you can remove. Once you’re moving, your core temperature will rise. The optimal temperature for endurance events is around 55 degrees (in the dry). If you over-insulate, you will sweat faster, overheat, and dehydrate.

September 23rd is right around the corner!

We look forward to seeing you out on the course!

Operation At Ease

Operation At Ease is hosting classes in Rotterdam beginning on Tuesday, July 18th from 6 – 7 PM. Classes are once a week for four months. OAE pairs disabled veterans with animals at no cost.

“Veterans attend a small group class with their dogs once a week for four months and learn the skills needed to pass the Canine Good Citizen and the Canine Good Citizen Urban (obedience titles offered through the American Kennel Club).”

Visit their Facebook event page for more info!

National PTSD Awareness Day

Veterans are not the only Americans who suffer with Post Traumatic Stress injuries. They are simply the most visible group most frequently associated with it.

The reality is that 8% of Americans, more than 24 million people, struggle with post traumatic stress.

The number of members of the military diagnosed with post traumatic stress has increased by 50% over the past year. That only reflects those who seek treatment.

Today is an opportunity to be mindful of those who struggle with the pain and stigma of living with PTSD, but remember that for them it is an everyday event.

Victory Garden Blessing

Christopher’s House and Heroes at Home cordially invite you to a traditional Native American blessing of the

 

Veterans Victory Garden

Wednesday June 14th at 2pm

515 1st Street, Troy N.Y.

For information contact Heroes at Home @ the Empowerment Exchange 518.235.2173.

 

 

 

Christopher’s House

Christopher’s House in Troy is part of the Capital District Women Veteran’s Program. Larry Bringing Good with Heroes @ Home has been working with Dixon Williams to establish a Veteran’s Victory garden at the site.

Christine Rem, Executive Director of the program, is excited about the project. There are currently two plots tilled and ready for planting.

If you are interested in assisting with, or donating to the project contact Christine at: crem13@nycap.rr.com or text 518.428.1612

Christopher's-2

Sportsman Like Conduct

There are war stories, and then there are war stories. This is the latter.

December 20th, 1943, a young bomber pilot named Charlie Brown (yup) was behind the stick of a B-17F, dubbed “Ye Old Pub”, on his first mission. He and his crew were on the dreaded left flank of the formation, the “Purple Heart” corner, when the Messerschmitts came.

His aircraft was badly damaged. Charlie was wounded. After a momentary black-out, Charlie recovered the aircraft.

As Charlie attempted to limp the bird back to England, he caught the attention of Franz Stigler. Stigler approached the lone bomber in his ME 109 and saw the tail gunner’s barrels hanging limp.

He flew cautiously up alongside of the cockpit and motioned to the injured pilot. He flew with the damaged American aircraft out over the channel, until he thought it unsafe to continue. He saluted Charlie and turned back.

For years Charlie searched his fractured memory of the incident. He put ads in German pilot publications about the incident until, one day, he received a response.

Today, Charlie and Franz are closer than brothers.

Set Up To Fail?

A retired Air Force Officer recently returned to the Academy for his 30-year reunion. What he found left him stunned.

The article outlines example after example of how standards have gone lax since his time there. Decreased discipline. Eroded formalities. Traditions forgotten.

That may read as: Back in MY day . . . 

However, he also illustrates how the strict standards and attention to detail made cadets into the kind of person with the mental and emotional toughness to endure the rigors of war.

It begs a question: Are we under preparing service members for war?

Hazing has no place in the military, any more than it belongs in any home or workplace. However, one has to wonder if relaxed standards are opening the door for Post Traumatic Stress and other mental health issues for service members . . .

Why We’re Here

A Cleveland-area man crashed his Dodge Challenger into a convenience store. He climbed out of his car, hazard lights flashing, and announced to the stunned clerk that he needed a beer.

This sounds like the beginning of a bad joke until you learn that the man is a veteran. He was, apparently, in the midst of deep emotional turmoil due to service-related post-traumatic stress.

No one should ever find themselves in such a desperate place. No one should ever feel so alone. There can never be enough emphasis placed on the importance of the relationships we build with one another.