The Suffolk County Police Department took on the 22 Pushup Challenge, powering through 22 pushups to raise awareness of veteran suicides.
The challenge is part of a larger national movement to raise awareness of the United States veteran suicide rate. The movement was initiated about a year ago by 22KILL, a veteran empowerment group in Dallas. Like the Ice Bucket Challenge two years ago, awareness is promoted through social media.
More than 200 ranking members, off-duty officers and recruits participated in the challenge at the Suffolk County Police Academy in Brentwood on Oct. 26. They aligned themselves to form the number 22, with an underline, and recorded the challenge in the middle of the academy’s track.
“As a police department that employs many veterans, the Suffolk County Police Department supports and cares deeply about all active and former service members of our nation’s armed forces,” said Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini, who also contributed 22 pushups. “Veteran suicide is a national tragedy and we are proud to participate in the #22PushUpChallenge to raise awareness of this critical issue.”
The number 22 was chosen for the challenge based on a 2009 Veterans Affairs report that estimated that by 2010, 22 veterans would have died from suicide each day. A more recent report by the VA said an average of 20 veterans died from suicide each day in 2014.
The Suffolk County police accepted the challenge from the Nassau County Police Department, which took on the challenge on Aug. 18.
Sini nominated the FBI’s Melville office to take up the challenge through a direct phone call and through the Suffolk County police’s Facebook page. The FBI, according to Suffolk County police, has accepted.