Travis Snyder

Marine Veteran Walks 800 miles In 42 Days For Veteran Suicide Awareness

One man has been grabbing people's attention after embarking on a truly incredible journey, all with the aim of spreading awareness about veteran suicides.

Travis Snyder recently walked 810 miles around Lake Michigan!

Facebook | Veteran Suicide Awareness: Travis Hikes Around Lake Michigan

Mr. Snyder left his job and sold most of his possessions (including his car) in order to embark on the unbelievable journey.

The aim was to promote a charity which is incredibly close to Snyder's heart, one which seeks to help struggling military veterans.

Snyder began his journey on August 26th with just a bag of supplies and his conviction.

Facebook | Veteran Suicide Awareness: Travis Hikes Around Lake Michigan

Snyder is himself a Marine veteran; and, after one of his military friends tragically killed himself, Snyder decided something needed to be done.

Snyder works alongside the charity Mission 22, who work with military veterans and is "a non-profit who combats the ever-rising veteran suicide rate."

Snyder did not expect his journey to reach so many people.

Facebook | Veteran Suicide Awareness: Travis Hikes Around Lake Michigan

Thousands of people took to the Facebook page which Snyder set up called, "Veteran Suicide Awareness: Travis Hikes Around Lake Michigan".

In an interview with CNN, Snyder described his inspiration as such:

"For my Marine brothers and I, [our friend's suicide] was a big shock to us. I can't say that many of us knew a lot about his struggle, otherwise we would have reached out, and definitely would have helped in any way we could've.

"I guess you could say it was a wake-up call to check in on each other a little more often and to really make sure that we don't lose anybody else."

Snyder's page now has nearly 4,000 followers!

Travis Snyder

Snyder had camping equipment and some supplies, yet people who were inspired by meeting him along his journey frequently offered to help him out by offering shelter or food. Snyder explained:

"In a good way, it was a little overwhelming and I was honored to share part of their burden with them, just going through the loss of losing a loved one or struggling themselves with suicide.

"For people to reach out the way they did and to support in their own way, whether it be financially or hotel or a meal, every single day of this trip just goes to show the magnitude of the effect that this epidemic has on people."

Snyder finished his insane distance a week ago to widespread praise.

Instagram | travishikeslakemi

On his final, emotional post on Instagram, Snyder thanked everyone again for their help and for sharing the message he has been trying to promote. He also went on to send a special message to those struggling:

"If you’re struggling with Suicide today, I want you to know that you have a purpose, and reason for living this life, this gift that you’ve been given. You’re needed, you’re loved, and you belong here with me. With us."

Suicide rates for veterans are incredibly high.

Facebook | Mission 22

On Mission 22's website, they say that according to their statistics, "Every day, more than twenty veterans are lost to suicide."

The aim of the charity is to bring that number down to zero through three main initiatives, "veteran treatment programs, memorials, and national awareness."

Snyder has said that he will keep his social media pages open to keep spreading awareness.

Facebook | Mission 22

Synder hopes that his pages will be a place that people who are struggling with mental health can use to find resources and support when in need.

The public were quick to congratulate Snyder on his fantastic achievement.

Instagram | travishikeslakemi

Others also thanked Snyder for his work, and shared their own experiences:

"Perfect message to an epic cause! THANK YOU from someone who lost someone to suicide! And for those ARE loved! We need you here!"

"Travis!! You are a blessing in the world! I have a cousin who has struggled a lot since he got back from Afghanistan. He's somewhat better now but I think it still haunts him. Thank you for raising awareness of the issues that plague a lot of our vets. I'm sure that what you've done is rippling outward into the wide world."

Snyder previously served as a corporal in Afghanistan.

Instagram | travishikeslakemi

The number of veterans who struggle with PTSD is remarkably high, and a lot will not receive the help that they require. According to the US National Library Of Medicine:

"Research indicates that an estimated 30% of Vietnam, 10% of Gulf War, 15% of Iraq veterans and 11% of veterans returning from Afghanistan struggle with PTSD [...] Veterans with trauma exposure and PTSD are more susceptible to sleep disorders, mood changes, reckless behavior, substance use and isolation which may impede a successful transition from military to civilian life."

Snyder's achievement shows an amazing amount of resolve and compassion.

Instagram | travishikeslakemi

Snyder plans to continue advocating for awareness of both veteran suicides and civilian suicides. Since finishing his journey, Snyder has been living with friends and family as he left his apartment in order to go on his journey.

Hopefully, Snyder's amazing work will inspire people to realize the struggles that so many people are going through on a daly basis. Suicide rates are shockingly high in today's society, meaning anything that we can do to help those around us when they're going through difficult times is crucial.

h/t: CNN