Showing support and solidarity for our veterans, that was the theme of nationwide marches held on Armed Forces Day in cities across the United States. The marches were held in about a dozen cities from Salem, Oregon all the way to New York City.
The purpose is to raise money for groups helping veterans.
Eric Burleson is a veteran who attended the Austin march at the Capitol, “We don't talk enough about this sort of thing, and we don't get engaged as much as we could.”
He was one of dozens who spent his Saturday afternoon showing support for his fellow veterans, “Veterans are a huge part of Texas, they deserve public support for mental health care for transition, not just career transition, but reintegration back into society,” he said.
Veterans, their families, and supporters came together for this first ever “Victory Veterans March on America.” Rich Hanner is the event organizer and chairman of the organization.
He said veterans are currently facing a broken support and healthcare system, and he’s hoping the march will bring awareness, “Veterans are mostly guys who came straight out of high school and stepped up to do something for their country, something bigger than themselves, sometimes that causes problems in their minds, in their bodies.”
Veterans March on America raises money to support organizations that are on the frontlines of helping veterans. “We owe them something to help them deal with the problems that are caused by that,” Hanner said.
After the march, the group planted 22 flags on the Capitol grounds representing the average number of veterans who commit suicide each day. Something that hits close to home for Burleson, “Personally have seven close friends who have committed suicide in the past several years, it's heartbreaking.”
He said it’s one of the reasons why he's on the forefront of trying to make change.
He writes a blog regarding his experience, “Everytime you find out how much they were struggling with something that you had no idea about. You were shoulder to shoulder with some of these people in some intense environments, yet you had no idea that they were dealing with such profound things
If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone there is help available through the suicide prevention lifeline, that number is 1-800-273-8255.
For more information on Victory Veterans March on America, you can click here.