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22-mile walk raises awareness on veteran suicide



Billings, Montana – A veteran raised awareness about veteran suicide by walking 22 miles from Laurel to Billings.

He is walking to support families and wants to inform veterans about the Adaptive Performance Center (APC) where they can receive assistance.

Vietnam veteran Frank Barnes joined him for the final 1.1 miles after Barnes, a veteran of the U.S. Army, arrived at Fire Station 4 at Terry Park.

“That was Jim’s symbolism for to show the age difference that it affects everybody,” Barnes said.

For the final mile, two women who had veteran relatives who had committed suicide also signed up.

“This means a whole lot to me,” said Trish Kellinger. “I’m a veteran myself, but I’ve lost my brother to suicide. He took his life eight years ago.”

At 6:22 a.m. on Friday, September 22, Barnes began the walk and carried 22 pounds the entire distance.

“Symbol of 22 is kind of a rallying cry for preventing suicides from veteran personnel,” Barnes said.

On Friday, September 22, at 6:22 a.m., Barnes started the walk and carried 22 pounds the whole way.

“Soldiers that I know take their lives, couple of them and close friends,” said Barnes. “Obviously some family members here that were part of that list have reached out.”

At the Adaptive Performance Center in Billings, which has developed into a secure space for veterans to discuss the problem, the trek came to an end.

“A person has passed but they think he or she’s forgotten,” said Mitch Crouse, APC co-founder. “And we’re reminding (the family) that, they’re not forgotten.”

Walk The Bridge is an event that Crouse and fellow APC co-founder Karen Pearson host every month on the 22nd at 6:00 p.m. at Sword Park.

Additionally, they accompanied Barnes on his exhausting voyage.

“It gets really emotional,” Pearson said. “And then the minute you hit this parking lot, and it’s done and the hugs start in, you recognize the magnanimity of what the last six and a half hours have been.”

“It was challenging just to work through those demons in the process and move forward,” said Barnes.

That’s precisely what gets him through it: moving forward.

“Reassures myself that if I have a problem, I can overcome it,” Barnes said.

Barnes participated in the walk last year and brought in roughly $2,600 this year to support efforts to prevent veteran suicide.

As per Pearson, the stroll has become a custom of the APC.







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