Triangle residents march to raise awareness about veteran suicide

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22 kilometers carrying 22 kilograms is a reference to the number of vets who commit suicide every day. (WTVD)

More than 100 people walked 22 kilometers carrying 22 kilograms on their backs on Memorial Day as part of the "Remembrance Ruck March" in downtown Raleigh.

The number 22 is in reference to the Veteran Affairs' 2012 Suicide Data Report, which shows that every day 22 veterans commit suicide.

"The ruck march is something that most of the people have done in their military careers and it's just to signify carrying the weight of those who have come before us and those who struggle," said USO Warrior and family programs manager, Randy Baker.

Most veterans walked nearly 14 miles, carrying about 49 pounds.

The event was meant to remember veterans who died serving our country, remember veterans who committed suicide, and to try to prevent more suicides with outreach programs and other resources.

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"Anyone who has ever committed suicide, anyone that's ever been lost in action, anything like that," said Marine veteran Jonathan Powers. "PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), we want to bring awareness to things like that."

The march raised over $4,000 for the USO, which organized the event along with Heroes Hearts.

"People struggle when they get back home from war and our programs build resiliency, so what we're trying to do is take care of challenges, trying to build skills where our servicemembers can meet life's challenges and overcome them, instead of getting to these crisis moments," Baker said.

New data shows 20 veterans commit suicide a day.

Brittney Mancini walked wearing a backpack with the name of her brother, James Cunningham, written on it.

She said he tried to commit suicide in February.

"For him it's the PTSD, the nightmares, the terrors, trying to sleep, and it created other issues," Mancini said.

Mancini walked with the hope that the outreach will help save other veterans from suicide, just like her family was able to save her brother.

"We as a society can't let that continue to happen," Mancini said. "We need to be there for our veterans."

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veteransmemorial dayarmymilitarysuicideRaleigh
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