ROUND ROCK, Texas - Active duty and veteran servicemen and women marched the streets on Saturday to raise awareness for the suicide rates among service members.
"We have service members who decided to sign their life away to protect and serve this country and unfortunately there are 22 veterans and service members who commit suicide every single day," said Marine Corps veteran Jaime Rincon.
For Rincon, that's a number that hits close to home. "I lost a lot of friends to suicide and that’s one too many," he said.
That's why he's taking part in Saturday's event. He says it not only raises awareness about the issue, but it could potentially help and save one person. "It’s my turn not to only give back to the community of veterans, but also to myself and my fellow brothers and sisters," Rincon said.
Get breaking news alerts in the FOX 7 Austin News app. It is FREE!
The event was organized by Irreverent Warriors, a group that says their mission is to bring veterans together using humor and camaraderie to improve mental health and prevent veteran suicide. For example, the hike.
Rincon says when they were on active duty, much of the time they were required to hike. So, using experiences they all have in common, it allows them to have that support network.
"But now that we got out of the military, we’ve lost that sense of brotherhood and sisterhood so why not bring what we used to hate and make fun of it?" he said.
Mitch Fuller served in Iraq and says events like these are important because they bring the veteran community closer. He says that veterans understand one another, going as far as to say they have their own special language. Because of that, it's sometimes easier for them to be able to make connections with one another that can break down walls.
He said during the hike, his main goal is to listen. "I like to listen to the younger veterans," Fuller said.
Fuller said by listening, he also gets to learn. "I want to make sure that I understand the veterans that are 15 to 20 years younger than I am," he said.
By understanding someone, that can be the first step to potentially helping them. For more information about Irreverent Warriors, visit their website.
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-8255 or visit the lifeline's website