EXCLUSIVE: US Marine Raising Awareness For Veteran Suicide
United States Marine veteran Travis Snyder is currently on a roughly 300-mile walk to raise awareness about veteran suicide. He began the estimated two-week journey Monday from his hometown of Holland, Michigan and will walk to Mackinaw City, Michigan.
“I’m doing it in support of the Mission 22 organization,” Snyder told the Daily Caller. “They work nationwide to help veterans and their families find their way through mental health challenges.” (RELATED: Retired Marine Stands On Median For 24 Hours To Raise Veteran Suicide Awareness)
On average, 22 veterans commit suicide daily in the United States according to the Military Veteran Project. The national average, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, is 132 people daily.
“Veterans make up a large percentage of that number,” he explained to the Daily Caller. “I just felt in my own heart to reach out to them because I can relate firsthand to what they’re going through and what they’re enduring.”
Snyder continued, “even if they aren’t on the front lines or in an infantry setting or combat setting, there’s still a lot of pressure that comes with working in the military, in the armed forces.”
He also expressed concerns for veterans during the COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainties associated with lockdowns and job losses.
“For some veterans, they might have been working through mental health challenges already pre-COVID. To endure a pandemic where many are losing their jobs — perhaps losing their homes, their businesses — and still trying to retain their family unit and take care of their loved ones, it’s definitely a big challenge,” Snyder told the Daily Caller.
Snyder encouraged people to “reach out to those veterans that are struggling and let them know that there are resources out there available to them [and] there are ways for them to overcome those challenges.”
“Mission 22 has been helping veterans with things like groceries even, too,” he told the Daily Caller. “It’s not just about mental health or overcoming their addictions, but also the practical things too. The everyday things like groceries, utilities. They’re about helping out these veterans in more than one day.”
When asked about where he believes the United States went wrong in regard to its veterans, Snyder said, “it’s kind of hard to pinpoint where we might have [gone] wrong in terms of government.”
“It seems like society wasn’t always so welcoming when it came to talking about mental health challenges whether it be [post-traumatic stress disorder] or depression or suicidal tendencies even. A lot of these Vietnam vets that I’m meeting, or even World War II and Desert Storm veterans that I’m meeting, when they come home they weren’t always taken care of right away.”
Snyder added how “we really didn’t take a second look at their mental health so much.”
“As far as I know now, you hear conversations happening within congress, the government talking about what we can do for our veterans — our brothers and sisters— that are struggling. You see it in the armed forces. Each branch is taking [its] own measures and instilling protocol to ensure that our men and women are genuinely being looked after.”
“It’s an extremely unfortunate number to hear,” Snyder told the Daily Caller. “But, the thing that makes this nation great is that we all have different views and different ways of looking at how things are. I’m proud to have fought for the freedom for everyone to speak their mind.”