New workout raises awareness about veteran suicides

We all remember when the Ice Bucket Challenge took the country by storm, bringing attention to Lou Gehrig's disease, ALS. Now, there's a new challenge spreading on social media, to raise awareness about a disturbing statistic.

As a Richfield, Minn. firefighter, Brian Wienholz has to stay in shape. But these days, his workout is doing more than just strengthening his muscles. It's raising awareness for a good cause.

"I got challenged by a fellow firefighter here. It was the first time I heard about it. I didn't know about it," Wienholz said.

For the last five days, Wienholz has posted videos of himself doing 22 pushups a day, each time challenging a different friend or colleague to do the same.

The 22 pushups represent the average number of suicides committed by veterans in this country every day, many of whom suffer from PTSD and a hard time re-integrating into their normal lives after combat.

"I hear a lot about it in relationships especially where he just got home, he's just angry. He'll get over it and you hit that 12-to-18 month mark and its still the same, " David Peters of Operation: 23 to 0, a local group also dedicated to raising awareness about veteran suicides. 

The Texas-based group "Kill 22" started the social media campaign with the goal of reaching 22 million pushups.

While veterans advocates hope this challenge goes viral like the Ice Bucket Challenge a couple of summers ago, they say more than just pushups need to be done.

"Whether its volunteering with local organizations, going out in your community and helping there's a million things you can do," Peters said.

But Wienholz says its an issue none of us can keep at arms length any longer.

"Sometimes you don't feel there's a lot you can do about it. But everybody can do pushups. If that's what it takes to raise awareness about it and get the ball rolling for change and support I'm going to do it," Wienholz said.

So far, the 22 Pushup Challenge has tallied at least five million pushups. 

22 Kill says it not only raises awareness, but also donations to help veterans get services that aren't offered through the VA.