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Veterans marching at Cheyenne Bottoms Saturday for PTSD awareness
new vlc carry the fallen logo

Blake Wornkey, Ellinwood, is an Army veteran, diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, who along with 15 to 18 fellow veterans will lead a Carry the Fallen Rucksack March at the Cheyenne Bottoms Wetlands Area Saturday morning.  
The march is one of many identical events happening around the country to raise awareness about the prevalence of suicide among returning veterans and to provide camaraderie among those who deal with the lasting effects of PTSD.  
Wornkey and other veterans will carry weighted rucksacks during the march to represent the weight of PTSD.  They will be joined by members of the community who are there to walk beside them in support.  The public is invited to participate, or simply greet them at the finish line in a show of support.  
The event begins at 6 a.m. Saturday morning at the parking area at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center.  Participants will head out on a non-competitive 12-mile march which will conclude at the KWEC pavilion around 11 a.m.  
Carry the Fallen is one of three different awareness and fundraising events sanctioned by Active Heroes is a 501c3 organization.  Its mission is to strengthen active duty military, veterans and their families in order to provide the coping skills to manage the stress and the triggering points that lead to military veteran suicide.
According to the organization’s website, throughout 2015, Active Heroes has been continuously fundraising to progress the Active Heroes Retreat Center development.
This is the dream of Major General Justin Finch, who has dedicated himself to seeing the retreat become a reality as he battles stage 4 cancer.  The facility includes 144 acres of retreat space.  Giving back to the soldiers and their families is the main focus of Active Heroes, Wornkey said.   
PTSD is hard to talk about, Wornkey admits, but walkers at the event are determined to raise awareness because they know it is important.  
“It’s hard to talk about our service,” he said.  “We don’t want to brag about what we’ve done.  It affects us 24 hours a day.”  Wornkey said after working in convoy security where he and his fellow soldiers were subject to ambushes, he finds experiences crowd anxiety and is uncomfortable in confined spaces.”  
Because they don’t have visible scars and missing limbs, it is difficult for civilians to understand the internal scars these soldiers carry, and that’s another reason the organization is working to help shed light on the subject.  Wornkey also wants to raise awareness that there are several of these veterans who have returned to this area.
The event is free, and is open to families with children.  Donations are welcome, and can be made online at .