‘We just can never do enough’ – Walks in 22 states in 22 days draws attention to veteran suicide

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  • Veteran Lamar Burrell from Texas leads the participants in the Walk For Vets. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Veteran Lamar Burrell from Texas leads the participants in the Walk For Vets to raise awarness to veteran issues as they head down North Main Street in Concord on Friday morning, February 4, 2022 in the sleet, snow and rain. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Veteran David McElroy walks with Shannon Taylor, ambassador program director for Mission 22 as the start the Walk For Vets 2.2 mile walk from the State House in Concord down Main Street on Friday morning, February 4, 2022. Ring started the organization in 2019 to bring awareness to veteran issues including the 22 suicides a day by veterans in this country. Ring plans to do the walk in 23 state capitols around the country. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • John Ring records a video with Shannon Taylor, ambassador program director for Mission 22, as they livestream the Walk For Vets.

  • Veteran Lamar Burrell leads the participants in the Walk For Vets to raise awareness of veteran issues as they head down South Main Street in Concord on Friday morning in the sleet, snow and rain. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • Veteran Lamar Burrell (left) and David Osborn stand as they get ready forthe Walk For Vets to raise awarness to veteran issues as they prepare to head down North Main Street in Concord on Friday morning, February 4, 2022 in the sleet, snow and rain. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • John Ring starts a video as he broadcasts live as his group sets out on a 2.2 mile walk for the WalkforVets.org from the State House in Concord down Main Street on Friday morning, February 4, 2022. Ring started the organization in 2019 to bring awareness to veteran issues including the 22 suicides a day by veterans in this country. Ring plans to do the walk in 23 state capitols around the country. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • John Ring starts a video as he broadcasts live as his group sets out on a 2.2 mile walk for the WalkforVets.org from the State House in Concord down Main Street on Friday morning, February 4, 2022. Ring started the organization in 2019 to bring awareness to veteran issues including the 22 suicides a day by veterans in this country. Ring plans to do the walk in 23 state capitols around the country. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • David Osborn stands as he get ready forthe Walk For Vets to raise awarness to veteran issues as they prepare to head down North Main Street in Concord on Friday morning, February 4, 2022 in the sleet, snow and rain. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Veteran David McElroy prepares to walk in his custom shoe at the start the Walk For Vets 2.2 mile walk from the State House in Concord down Main Street on Friday morning, February 4, 2022. Ring started the organization in 2019 to bring awareness to veteran issues including the 22 suicides a day by veterans in this country. Ring plans to do the walk in 23 state capitols around the country. McElroy usually walks barefoot for the 2.2 miles. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Published: 2/4/2022 4:56:50 PM

John Ring is on a mission.

He wants to keep veterans alive. He wants them to know their service hasn’t been forgotten. He wants them to stay strong in the face of despair.

“They kind of get lost after serving. They don’t know which direction to turn. A lot end up in the criminal justice system, some just end up lost,” Ring said.

Ring, a 43-year-old Army veteran from Texas, was in Concord on Friday morning to walk 2.2 miles in the snow. That number has a lot of meaning.

Statistically, 22 veterans commit suicide a day. To help bring this national problem to light, Ring will walk 2.2 miles in 22 days in 22 states. He began his journey in Maine on Wednesday, the date was 2/2/22.

Friday, he walked in the freezing rain.

“The thing is, veterans, they go through a lot every day. They endure every day. They fight every day and we’re trying to push veterans to fight and go another day,” Ring said. “The least we could do is suck up a little bit of sleet, a little bit of snow or whatever and get this mission done to show them that we’re out here, we care and they need to reach out for help if they need it.”

He’s not alone either. He was joined by friends and other veterans, like David McElroy, a 24-year Air Force Veteran from Mississippi, who didn’t exactly have the footwear for the weather.

“I have seen the pain that comes with military service with deployments, with returning home to a different world as a different person,” McElroy said. “We just can never do enough to honor the service and sacrifice of anybody that ever raises their hand and takes that out.”

Ring has walked before to honor specific veterans who died by suicide.

On Oct. 1, 2019, Ring began the “Buddy Watch Walk” at Tybee Island Pier, Georgia, that ended 2,500 miles away at the Santa Monica Pier on June 14, 2020. A year later, on Oct. 1, 2020, the walk picked back up in Jackson, Mississippi, and made its way back to Tybee Island, Georgia.

Since then Ring founded WalkForVets.org, and vets who are struggling seek him out.

“Two of the veterans that are with me today I’ve actually responded to in the middle of the night that we’re in crisis,” Ring said. “For them to be traveling from Texas here with me, it means a lot to see them out here advocating because there was a point of time when they needed help themselves.”

He knows that walking may not directly save a person’s life from suicide or heal the scars veterans deal with, but it shows hope and support, he said.

“I said from the beginning, if doing something like this can save one veteran’s life, I'm gonna do it all over again,” Ring said. “Keep the wheels turning and the feet moving.”

If you need help, contact the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255.




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