Travis Snyder recently just completed an 800-mile walk to raise veteran suicide awareness that has had a huge impact on thousands of people.
On August 26, the United States Marine decided to leave his job, sold his car, and got rid of his apartment and embarked on a journey for a sensitive and noble cause.
For the next 42 days, Travis was on a mission to walk around Lake Michigan and raise awareness for veteran suicide prevention, an issue he describes as ‘an epidemic that could be considered a huge monster in society.’
He made sure to post daily updates and share words of thanks and encouragement as he hiked across 810 miles. On his journey, Travis reveals that people showed up to offer him food, rides, overnight stays and company during his walk.
Travis Snyder who served his country from 2012 is an ambassador for Mission 22, a nonprofit dedicated to preventing veteran suicide through treatment programs, memorials, and awareness campaigns.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, an average of 20 veterans die every day from suicide. A study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration also revealed that vets who suffer from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), only half of them who need mental health treatment will receive these services.
Travis’ Facebook page called Veteran Suicide Awareness: Travis Hikes Around Lake Michigan and his 810 mile walk attracted a lot of attention from the local residents, the online community and the media. A group even joined him for the last mile of his walk.
He even found a kitten he named Gulliver during his walk. “As you can see, I made a new friend this morning. This furry little guy was left overnight in the thunderstorms. I took him along on today’s walk.” He wrote on his Facebook page.
Travis revealed he got a wake up call in April, when a friend from his deployment unit in Afghanistan died by suicide, shocking him and his friends.
“For my Marine brothers and I, that was a big shock to us. I can’t say that many of us knew a lot about his struggle, otherwise we would have reached out, and definitely would have helped in any way we could’ve. I guess you could say it was a wake-up call to check in on each other a little more often and to really make sure that we don’t lose anybody else.” he told CNN.
Even though he finished his walk, Travis still intends to continue his mission, post information on resources to help those suffering and to raise awareness on his Facebook page which has now gone viral.
Travis encourages people with simple suggestions on how they can help those suffering with depression adding that you don’t have to be a veteran to be part of the community he has created online through his mission.
Speaking on how you too could help those suffering with depression and PTSD, Travis wrote on Facebook, “You don’t have to have all the answers, you don’t have to be a counselor or a Doctor. Just start with the little things; a wave, a smile, a simple ‘hello’ will go a long ways in not only saving the life of one who’s struggling, but also the life of those that would’ve been affected by that loss, that void.”
This is such a noble act and an important reminder to look out for and help veterans who have risked their lives to protect us.
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