WALLINGFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– Two men from Massachusetts are traveling by foot down to our nation’s capital. They are continuing their trek through Connecticut Thursday to raise awareness about a huge problem in our society.
And they’re off! Brian Tjersland and Josh Milich are heading out bright and early from their hotel in Wallingford, as they slowly but surely make their way to Arlington National Cemetery down in Virginia.
“The reason for the 500 miles was to do something so extreme that it would force people to look,” said Milich.
“We wanted to do something so absurd that people would take notice,” said Tjersland.
And people are paying attention. The reason for this run is simple, to raise awareness for veteran suicide.
“People come back from overseas and there’s this stigma of being too strong to ask for help. It’s OK to not be OK,” said Milich.
The issue is pretty alarming. According to national data, 22 veterans take their own lives every day in the U.S. That’s 154 a week.
Both runners are teaming up with mission 22. A non-profit that offers treatment for everything from post traumatic streets to substance abuse.
“Hopefully what we’re doing is tell them it’s OK to ask for help,” said Tjersland.
Both of these runners averaging 50 miles a day and they’re getting support from others who are also concerned about this issue.
“We want all veterans to know pick up the phone talk to somebody. It is OK to ask for help,” said Jim Lacoursiere, American Legion Dept. of Connecticut.
“Most times one positive contact can not only change a life but it can potentially save a life,” said Jeffrey Declerck, American Legion Dept. of Connecticut.
And that’s the hope in all of this. As these guys brave the elements and the physical pain from such a run.
“You can’t train for something of this magnitude. We did our best to get ready. We are doing for the right reasons and that’s enough to push us forward,” said Milich.
These guys expected to arrive down in Virginia next Friday the 22nd.
You can track the runners and their progress on this journey by clicking here.