LAKE MICHIGAN BEACH, Mich. — Marine veteran Travis Snyder will begin his journey around Lake Michigan on Monday, spreading awareness about veteran suicide prevention.
Snyder served as a Marine from 2012 to 2018. He said the road to coming home was paved with change and challenges.
"I was at a restaurant in Holland, and I was just overwhelmed because there were people everywhere," he said, adding that he was shocked by the abundance of trees and water, compared to Afghanistan's deserts.
Snyder listed multiple reasons that veterans have a hard time adjusting to life back home.
"Your friends are having kids, your siblings and families are still doing day-to-day life and meanwhile you’re focused on a mission. I think that’s one sacrifice that not everybody notices," he said, noting that veterans often feel left behind or lost in their relationships when they return home.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 20 veterans die every day by suicide.
While Snyder had heard the stories of PTSD and suicidal tendencies, he said it wasn't until his former suite mate committed suicide that the statistics began to sink in.
"Everyone got along with him. He was a very knowledgeable, hardworking kid, and I would've never guessed he was struggling in that way," Snyder said.
Now he is setting off on a mission to raise awareness about veteran suicide rates and how they can be prevented.
"Just being there to listen or talk to somebody can change the course of a person’s life and their families too. If we lose one of our loved ones to suicide, there’s such a void there that everybody around them feels. We’re not just changing veterans lives, we’re changing the lives of those around them that care about them as well," he explained.
Working through Mission 22, a non-profit that helps veterans and their loved ones combat PTSD and suicide, Snyder will walk an estimated 900 miles around Lake Michigan. He will start in Manistee on Monday at 8 a.m. and travel north through Mackinaw City, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and back up north. The journey is expected to take 30 days.
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