BY SARAH STEPHENS
Have you heard of the Buddy Watch Walk?
If you want to learn more about it, there is a Meet and Greet event at American Legion Post 133 in Millbrook Monday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. However, the Buddy Watch Crew is setting up today behind the American Legion with their camper and vehicles, and said they would be happy if people would stop by and visit them if they cannot make the Meet and Greet tomorrow.
Follow this link for a very informational article concerning the Mission and the current Walk the participants are taking that includes Alabama.
The Buddy Watch Walk raises awareness on Veteran Issues. There is a Crisis Line for Veterans, which is 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1)
The website can be found at buddywatchwalk.com has a lot of information about their mission. There you will also find more information about Ring, who will be attending the Meet and Greet informational meeting Monday in Millbrook.
Mission: Walking and raising awareness to the plight of Veterans, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI, Military Sexual Trauma (MST), addiction, homelessness, benefits and the epidemic of suicide among service members and our veterans.
“It all started because of a female veteran and challenges she was going through,” Ring told the Elmore/Autauga News.
But while walking in 2019, Ring said it became personal. His oldest son was serving at Fort Hood and dealing with some of the same issues his group walks for, he said.
“For so long in our country veterans have been on the back burner for treatment and benefits and get lost in the shuffle. Our purpose is to have it be a constant reminder that our veterans should be a priority. Their needs should be a priority. Our veterans are committing suicide at a horrific rate in our country. For the past few months we have dealt with a pandemic. But since Vietnam, veterans have been dealing with an epidemic of suicide. So, if this walk and what we do saves one veteran’s life, it is well worth it.”
Ring and his crew will be in Millbrook at the American Legion until Tuesday morning, then they are headed out to Montgomery for the Buddy Watch Walk Day in that city.
“Last year we had a proclamation regarding the Buddy Watch in Montgomery. On Oct. 29 there will be a 2.2 mile walk from the Montgomery American Legion Department Headquarters (120 North Jackson Street) with a meet and greet from 8 a.m. until 9 and then the walk beginning at 9 a.m. We are thankful for all support from American Legion, Post 133, and their continued support,” Ring said.
Ring joined the American Legion Post 133 in Millbrook as an official member last year, after meeting with several other members, the first by good fortune.
He walked into the Department Headquarters in downtown Montgomery and met James Gillespie, of Millbrook, who was working in the office.
“He (James Gillespie) asked me what I was doing. We sat down and talked. He asked me if I had support, and I told him at that time I was just doing it on my own accord. He said, ‘That all ends today.’”
That night John was invited to a steak dinner at American Legion Post 133 in Millbrook. The Legion arranged for a local hotel room and stayed in touch with him. Members reached out to other departments in multiple areas to keep Ring’s support system going as he traveled west.
Aside from his service to his country, and what he is on a mission for today, John and his girlfriend Amanda own a newspaper in Wood County Texas. It was during his walk that he met Amanda, who was a reporter for another newspaper in Wood County. Together the two decided to begin their own newspaper, now called Wood County Now.
In speaking of his desire to increase education and benefits for veterans, he said that when he first began this adventure, he had very little support, even from the military.
“We all served and we served for our brothers and sisters and our country. The reality is that the military is just as much of a problem as the politicians. Politics is a problem and I don’t care what side of the aisle you are on. Veterans are not represented.
“I have walked 3000 miles, and in that time have only met three senators and one congresswoman,” Ring said.
He said that until there are bills for more funding that actually make a difference in the lives of veterans, he doesn’t like to hear anyone bragging politically of their support for veterans. The proof isn’t there.
There are too many stories out there of veterans who were suicidal, reached out for help, and found none. There are things we, as a nation, have to work on, he said. Until then, he and his crew and supporters will continue their mission, sharing information with anyone wanting to learn, and perhaps join their cause.
Please come out Monday to the American Legion Post 133 in Millbrook and meet the people behind the Buddy Watch Walk organization.