WACO– A group of veterans spent the day walking around Waco for the Silkies Invasion Veteran Suicide Prevention Hike.
They use 22 as a symbolic number representing about 22 veterans a day who commit suicide.
“Being in the military, you think pain breeds camaraderie,” said Silkies Invasion coordinator Jacob Romero. “We do about nine miles, so people are going to suffer after that, but it builds community. You remember the good old days when you did it while you were in the service and you always hated it. And now look at us, we do it for fun.
The purpose of the hike is to get people out of the house and together in a spirit of camaraderie, bonding and mutual support.
“Being outside and active among like-minded people, among common connections or connections you’ve had in the past, or even making new connections can improve your overall mental health,” said Aaron Rollins, medical support for Silkies Invasion. “And that’s what it’s all about. It’s about bringing people together, getting out of isolation, being active in your day, feeling better about yourself.
Rollins says if you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts, remember you’re not alone.
“A lot of people feel alone, they feel like there’s no hope, there’s no other options,” Rollins said. “But you can believe from a survivor that there is always hope. And if you’re a veteran and you’re having trouble, please call somebody, call anyone, call the crisis line, call the veterans emergency service.
He and Romero encourage veterans to get involved in groups and events like this.
“When you take that first step and come out of that isolation and into a community like this that’s going to accept you, no matter what kind of history you had, whether you’re fixing the equipment of the air wing or you’re pounding the ground in the dirt with guns, or you’re jumping out of planes,” Rollins said.