Jacksonville, N.C. --
Twenty-two veterans across the United States commit suicide every day. To raise awareness, Irreverent Warriors hosted a silkies hike in Jacksonville April 16.
Hundreds of civilians, veterans and active-duty service members from all military branches hiked down Western Boulevard, carrying 22 kilograms in their packs to support the cause.
"We’ve got people from all over taking part in this hike to raise awareness," said Christal Dunaway, an organizer for the hike. "For some, this isn’t the first hike they’ve done, but it’s the first one in Jacksonville; I hope any service member can look at what we’re doing today and see it’s not just them going through this."
Irreverent Warriors is an organization which helps veterans push past mental and physical times through therapeutic events and entertainment across the United States.
The organization hosts a multitude of events from silkie hikes to beach bashes in order to boost morale and let service members, both active duty and retired, know they don’t have to be alone when dealing with PTSD.
"You never know who you’ll run into doing things like this," said Dunaway. "You could be hiking next to someone who’s going through the same thing you’re going through and we’re all battling together."
Participants hiked 22 kilometers for the cause, carrying American and Marine Corps colors as supporters cheered them on to the finish.
"We wanted the community to come in and help out," said Rosa Berry, an organizer for the silkies hike. "There are 300 plus people out here supporting what’s happening. It’s a great feeling to know we have the support."
A radio station and multiple businesses from the community attended the initia l gathering to rally around what the organization put together.
"We want to do this to show people there is a support system," said Dunaway, "it doesn’t have to be 22 people committing suicide every day and our goal is so it becomes zero."