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East Tennessee veterans hike to raise awareness for veteran suicide

On average, 22 veterans die by suicide a day.
East Tennessee veterans hike to raise awareness for veteran suicide.
East Tennessee veterans hike to raise awareness for veteran suicide.(Jared Austin)
Published: Jan. 22, 2022 at 3:46 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Knoxville Team Red, White and Blue partnered with 5.11, a tactical gear store, Saturday for a hike to raise awareness for veteran suicide. Vets said, on average, 22 veterans die by suicide each day.

Dozens of veterans gathered outside 5.11 Sunday to start the conversation about veteran suicide.

Veteran engagement director for Team Red, White and Blue, Matt Gordon, said, “Come out and talk to somebody because you could be the difference in someone’s life.”

Something army veteran Curtis Driver needed at some point in his life.

“I was almost a victim of suicide and Team Red White and Blue saved me,” Driver said.

To help himself, Driver went on a march with Team Red, White and Blue.

Driver said, “It was a ruck on the greenway and this very nice lady walked with me and we talked for an hour, and man I was hooked.”

Driver is now a member of Team Red, White and Blue in Tennessee and worked Sunday to bring awareness to veteran suicide.

“Being an army veteran and having lost friends to suicide it’s very important to raise awareness and be available to veterans,” Driver said.

Members of Team Red, White and Blue asked people who were marching to talk with someone they hadn’t met before.

To signify the 22 veterans who die by suicide every day, the group put 22 pairs of combat boots outside 5.11 with American flags in the right boot.

Gordon said, “By putting people who have successfully done it together in a place where they can talk about it and really become each other’s mentor is really going to be the path forward making the largest impact possible.”

Veterans from all different generations and wars marched together Sunday for the common goal of being there for each other. Team Red, White and Blue chose to march 5.11 miles because of their partnership with 5.11 in Knoxville. At the halfway point of the march, people were asked to do 22 pushups to continue bringing awareness to veteran suicide.

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