Veterans walk 10 hours to raise suicide awareness, build camaraderie

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB)-- Nearly 50 veterans strapped on their boots and their backpacks, Saturday morning, to walk around Gainesville for 10 hours and all for a good cause.

Everyday 22 veterans commit suicide, according to the organization Florida4Warriors. It's for that reason the Silkies Ruck Run aims to create a feeling of community and camaraderie among veterans, to give them the support network they need to combat illnesses like depression and PTSD.

Many of the veterans who participated shared their own stories of struggling to adjust to civilian life.

"A while back I decided I didn't want to live anymore, I wanted to join the 22 a day and I found this group," said Marine Corps veteran Jack Jones, "luckily by chance, just in time, and they saved my life."

Florida4Warriors encourages veterans to make friends with others, so they will have someone there in their time of need.

"They met with me at a bar actually and we sat down and had a couple of drinks and really the love that I felt once I was introduced to the group was something I hadn't felt since I was in the Marine Corps," said veteran Benny Benitez.

While some wore comical outfits, others wore 40 pound ruck sacks, but all took to the streets with smiles on their faces and a kinship like they knew in their past.

"The biggest thing you can do with those 22 is remind them that they're not alone," Tamara Sugar, the co-founder of Florida4Warriors told TV20 News. "They have brothers and sisters and bring them together for a day of humor and camaraderie."

When it was all said and done, after 10 hours of walking, veterans came together for a moment of silence and prayers, all for the 22 who didn't have a support system to lean on.

For more information on Florida4Warriors click here.