- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 6, 2016

The U.S. Air Force has issued airmen a warning against officially taking part in a popular push-up challenge that raises awareness about suicidal veterans.

The 22 Pushup Challenge put forth by a nonprofit group called 22Kill has successfully spread on social media and managed to attract the attention of celebrities like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The Air Force, however, says servicemen who take part may be in violation of the Defense Department’s policies against endorsements and fundraising.

“While [airmen] are allowed to participate in activities to honor fallen airmen or bring awareness to issues like suicide, if these activities are associated with any type of nonprofit, non-federal entity, or fundraising or membership campaign, it cannot be done in an official capacity,” the branch said in a recent statement, Air Force Times reported Wednesday.

Jacob Schick, a Marine veteran and the executive director of 22Kill did not hide his disdain for the announcement. Mr. Schick lost his foot during an IED explosion while deployed to Iraq.

“I think it’s stupid,” Mr. Schick told the newspaper. “When you have an entire brigade in the U.K. doing the same thing, and the Air Force says you can’t do it on government time even though it’s for the cause of veterans, I’m not sure how that makes any sense whatsoever. I guess we’re just going to let the U.K. show us up continually. We want you to join the military and fight for freedom, but you can’t have your own? I’m dumbfounded right now.”

Air Force Times readers also mocked the warning.

“The Air Force is just mad because most airmen can’t do 22 consecutive push ups,” reader Samantha Smith said Wednesday.

“How about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell … about Push Ups,” added Cate Richards.

“I’m starting to defend the Air Force less and less from Army and Marine vets. I’m having a hard time recognizing it as a fighting force anymore,” wrote Matthew Maltby.

22Kill has billed itself since 2013 as a global movement to bridge gaps between civilians and military communities.

22Kill works to raise awareness to the suicide epidemic that is plaguing our country, and educate the public on mental health issues such as PTS. 22KILL also serves as a resource for veterans, and continues to build on its network of like-minded organizations to be able to connect veterans with programs and services in their local area,” the organization says on its website.

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