‘Ruck’ stops here as selfless Samaritans feed needy vets

Jessica Carter, Debbie Timmes, Allison Zukowski and Nicole Jewell [Photo: Kaila Jones]

A battalion of good Samaritans gathered at Waldo’s Restaurant last Saturday morning to support Operation Surf and Turf, a project to deliver meals to disabled veterans. It was organized by a group called Do You Give a Ruck with help from the Treasure Coast Jeep Club, Veterans Council of Indian River County and Vietnam Veterans of Indian River County.

They chose to launch the event from the beach at Waldo’s on June 6 in honor of D-Day, when Allied forces landed on Normandy beaches for a heroic campaign that ultimately led to the defeat of Hitler’s Nazi Germany.

Do You Give a Ruck? Yes, it’s a play on words. The group of military veterans and supporters say they do “give a ruck” and have made it their mission to better the lives of fellow veterans through public awareness and fundraising for organizations whose programs support them.

You may have seen its members marching around town, laden with 20-pound rucksacks similar to those used in the military. A standard military ruck is 12 miles long, carrying a minimum of a 35-pound rucksack, and the concept is equally related to fitness and mental stamina.

In February, a group marched for 20 miles with their packs from the Sebastian City Hall to the Vero Beach City Hall, to raise awareness about veteran suicides. The rucksacks also represent the burden veterans carry around with them long after they leave the battlefields.

Many of their ‘veterans supporting veterans’ projects have been achieved through partnerships with other groups, including the Veterans Council and Every Dream Has a Price.

Recently, the unit helped distribute food provided by Treasure Coast Compassionate Care to more than 300 families in need. They have also donated nearly $10,000, 470 toys and 4.5 tons worth of supplies to the homeless or impoverished.

Surf and Turf is the second veteran meal delivery the nonprofit has completed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Do You Give a Ruck was prompted to take action for its first – Swine and Drive – when its vice president, Charles Jackson, had a hard time procuring his own basic necessities due to pandemic-created shortages.

“I drove all the way to the commissary at Patrick Air Force Base looking for meat,” said Jackson. “It made me wonder if disabled veterans were getting enough food. So this was a health and comfort deal that we decided to put together in relation to the coronavirus.”

Anyone can participate, said Jackson. “If you want the community to be better, if you want to be a positive influence in your community, then be the change that you want to see.”

For more information, visit doyougivearuck.com.

Photos by: Kaila Jones
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