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I think it's fair to say that as a country we often take our Armed Forces for granted. We have holidays to honor members of the military, but most of us spend those days grilling and drinking with friends, or catching up on much-needed rest. Our service men and women are engaged in wars in multiple countries, and, sadly, casualties continue to mount.

The impact of serving during wartime lasts well past one's deployment period. The leading cause of death in the military is not homicide, or cancer, or accidents. It is suicide. On average (and this is likely a low estimate), 22 Veterans and one active duty soldier commit suicide each day. Suicide rates are higher for those who have served in the military than those who have not, despite lower overall death rates. The horrible symptoms of PTS (Post Traumatic Stress), combined with the challenge many face to seek support due to the perceived (and actual) stigma surrounding mental illness, has led to a suicide epidemic among our Armed Forces.

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“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.” - Bob Marley

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A few weeks ago, we received an email from a student at Penn State University who wanted to contribute to the Flyte Fitness blog after she had read several articles on fitness and health. The student, sophomore Haley Staub, explained that she was leading an effort on behalf of the Penn State Dance Marathon (known as “THON”) to raise money to fight childhood cancer. THON culminates with a 46-hour, “no sleeping, no sitting,” dance marathon every February which is watched by 150,000 people around the world. Throughout the year, there are many charity events to raise money and create momentum for the cause. Haley wanted to share with Flyte Fitness readers an innovative approach to an upcoming 5K.

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The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has made headlines over the past few weeks for "going viral" on social media sites, raising awareness of the neurodegenerative disease, and bringing in over $80 million in donations. ALS is much easier to say than its non-abbreviated name, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. And it is much easier to talk about while we smile as chilly water is dumped on our suspecting heads... I paid my dues this week.

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