Riding for a reason: Nonprofits raising awareness of veteran suicide

Morning In America

(NewsNation) — Two nonprofit groups have teamed up on a charity cross-country motorcycle trip to bring awareness to high suicide rates among soldiers and veterans.

Members of Richmond-based nonprofit Tech for Troops and Yorktown-based nonprofit To The End and Back discussed the ride during an appearance on “Morning in America”.

“I truly don’t believe that the civilian populace that isn’t affiliated with the military understand what a veteran and service member go through,” ride participant Clark Castle said.

6,261 veterans in the United States took their own lives in 2019, according to the Department of Veteran Affairs. The VA also found that veterans are twice as likely to commit suicide.

Three friends and veterans, Cody Brakefield, Josh Wright and Kevin Keplinger, will be riding their motorcycles across the country and back, wanting to let fellow soldiers and veterans know that they are not alone.

“I’ve struggled with PTSD for a while,” Brakefield said. “And now we started this ride to help other people get past the stigma of seeking behavioral health help for the mental issues for PTSD.”

The first leg of their charity trip began on April 18 in Yorktown, Virginia. Their trip will span 22 days, over 6,100 miles and will include visits to multiple military bases along the way.

“Our philosophy is five motorcycles make a little bit of noise, but a hundred motorcycles make a lot of noise,” Wright said. “And that gave a lot more attention to why we’re actually doing this and what the end state is, and that is to affect the mental health of veterans and servicemembers before they get to the point of thinking of committing suicide.”

Watch the full interview with veterans making the trip in the video player at the top of the page.

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