A United States Marine veteran is on an approximate 300-mile walk to raise awareness about veteran suicide.
The two-week journey sounded off on Monday from his hometown of Holland, Michigan, and will end at his destination in Mackinaw City, Michigan.
“I’m doing it in support of the Mission 22 organization,” Travis Snyder told the Daily Caller. “They work nationwide to help veterans and their families find their way through mental health challenges.”
“Veterans make up a large percentage of that number,” he continued in his exclusive interview with 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 acknowledged that “even if [soldiers] 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 financial and mental health concerns for veterans during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as uncertainties associated with lockdowns and unemployment.
“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 went on.
Snyder encouraged the public to “reach out to those veterans that are struggling" and "let them know that there are resources out there available to them" and "ways for them to overcome those challenges.”
Mission 22 even helps veterans with groceries, Snyder noted.
“It’s not just about mental health or overcoming their addictions, but also the practical things too," he stated. "The everyday things like groceries, utilities. They’re about helping out these veterans in more than one day.”
When reporters asked about the faults in the nation's support systems for veterans, Snyder responded: “[I]t’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," he explained, recounting how a majority of Vietnam, World War II, and Desert Storm veterans he has met "weren’t always taken care of right away" when they returned home without a "second look" at their mental health.
“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," Snyder pointed out.
However, the support pours out from within the armed forces, he emphasized, as each branch initiates its own measures and instills protocol "to ensure that our men and women are genuinely being looked after."
The Daily Caller then cited a Gallup Poll that found back in June that 42 percent of American adults are “extremely proud” to be Americans and 21 percent are “very proud.”
“It’s an extremely unfortunate number to hear,” Snyder concluded. “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.”