DENVER — An army veteran is traveling the country to raise awareness about veteran suicide.
He started back in May, and is at about the halfway mark in Denver.
Jeremy Miller said he wants veterans to know they’re not alone in the pain they’re feeling and wants to inspire them to open up and talk about it.
But it wasn’t until Miller came close to taking his own life that he realized he needed to do something to save more than just himself.
“There’s 22 suicides a day and it’s just become a crazy, horrible epidemic that I’ve lost three guys to that I personally knew," Miller said.
Four months ago, Miller almost become part of that statistic. He made plans to drive off a cliff in Idaho.
“I got to it and just slammed on the brakes, and just got out of my car and just cried," he said. "It was very emotional.”
His experience was also a wake-up call, he said, and he decided he wanted to find a way to reach out to other veterans, hurting like him.
“I figured doing something like this, I would reach the most amount of people," he said.
Each day, he walks 20-30 miles. He said he wants to show veterans are not alone. His travels are funded through donations.
“As far as people go, it’s pretty much restored my faith in humanity, because everyone’s been so kind and welcoming," he said.
After going 1,400 miles and going through three pairs of shoes, Miller said he’s finally found peace in his own life.
“Going on this trip, I’ve opened up—that’s vulnerability," he said. "I can’t say that without doing it myself, but it was very hard.”
He hopes his journey will encourage other veterans to want to do the same.
"So many people have said so many tremendous things about what I’m doing and stuff," he said. "Reading people’s stories reminds me of what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. It keeps me going a lot of the days.”
Miller has a 4-year-old son, and says that helps keep him going through those tough days.
He said there have been times he wanted to quit and go home to his family, but said doing this will make him a stronger man and, most importantly, a better father.
To follow his journey, go to his Facebook page, or to donate, go to his Walk Across America for Veteran Suicide Awareness GoFundMe page.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, contact the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). It’s a free, 24/7 service that offers support, information, and local resources. You can also click here for additional hotlines within the tri-state area and the nation.
Depression and suicidal thoughts are often exhibited in many ways. Warning signs for suicide can include, but are not limited to, talking about wanting to die; conveying feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness or being a burden; and displaying extreme moods.
If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention advises that you do not leave the person alone, call a prevention hotline, and take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.
For more information on suicide prevention, including additional resources and warning signs, you can visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s website.AlertMe