Fort Rucker shows support for survivors, fallen heroes
Children run for survivors and fallen heroes during the 1-mile fun run while the Patriot Guard Riders show their support after the last year's Survivors and Fallen Heroes 5k run at the Fort Rucker Fitness Facility. This year's run will be April 20 at 8 a.m., and people can register at either fitness facility up until 7:40 a.m. the day of the run.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (April 4, 2013) -- The Fort Rucker community will show its support for the Families of fallen heroes during the installation's second Survivors and Fallen Heroes 5k run April 20.

In a collaborative effort by the Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation, the members of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment and the Survivor Outreach Services program, the run at the Fort Rucker Physical Fitness Facility is designed to honor survivors and those that have made the ultimate sacrifice, according to Beth Gunter, financial counselor for SOS.

More than 300 people participated in last year's run, which came about after Gunter spoke with B Co., 1-145 Avn. about doing something as a tribute for the fallen heroes and their survivors. When MWR got involved, it was able to be done as a post run, and with the success of last year's run, it was brought back this year.

"B Co. jumped [at the opportunity] because Soldiers said that these were their brothers in combat and it would be great for them to show that they are still thinking about those that we've lost," she said. "It just became a collaborative effort by a lot of people wanting to show that this is a great way to have the community wrap their arms around survivors and show that their fallen heroes have not been forgotten."

The survivors of fallen heroes aren't just the spouses and children, said Gunter, but also parents and siblings, adding that SOS reaches out to all the survivors that are out there to provide the type of service for whatever questions they may have for a lifetime, rather than just a period of time after a Soldier has fallen.

"Our goal is to help survivors realize that they are always part of the military Family," she said. "Even though they have lost their [loved one], it doesn't mean that they are any less important to our military Family.

"Just as when a person loses someone within their immediate Family, their Family members are there to provide that support and encouragement to help them work through the grief," said Gunter. "This is a military Family and we are there in the same aspect -- to help them work through the grief and help them move forward."

Survivor Outreach Services is a program that came about on Fort Rucker in April of 2009 when the Army realized that even though grieving Family members have casualty assistance officers to help them through the initial process of losing a service member, the Families still have issues well after CAOs have done their job, she explained.

The program is in place to provide the support, advocacy and financial counseling for the survivors for as long as they need, said Gunter, and that's one of the main reasons for wanting to put on the run as a means of support.

"We want the community to be [at the run] to show their support as well," said Gunter. "It's a great way for the installation to show its support for the survivors and fallen heroes, as well as the SOS program."

Gold stars will be available with the names of the fallen heroes for the survivors to wear during the race, she said, adding that there will be additional gold stars available for those that wish to run in honor of a friend or comrade that people can write the names of on.

"When a service member goes overseas, they get a blue star flag that symbolizes that there is a service member serving within the military during wartime," Gunter explained. "If the service member dies while serving on active duty during war, the blue star is replaced with a gold star being placed over the top of the blue star.

"That's why we're utilizing the gold stars," she said, "it symbolizes the survivor. We're hoping to have enough runners for every one of the fallen Soldiers."

Breakfast refreshments will be provided and there will be an inflatable for children to play in, as well as awards to be presented after the 1-mile fun run, she added.

The run will begin at 8 a.m. and the cost for pre-registration for the run is $20, which includes a T-shirt, and people can register at either of the fitness facilities up until April 13. Regular registration costs $25 and is from April 14 up until 7:40 a.m. the day of the race.

For more information, call 255-3794 or 255-2286.

Page last updated Thu April 4th, 2013 at 13:15