DOUGLAS COUNTY — “I’ve had a lot of friends of mine that committed suicide over the years.” The friends Marine Corp. veteran Jeremy Rawls lost, were also veterans. It is why he is part of a small group taking on a trek of nearly 120 miles on foot.
The small group gets inquisitive looks and a few honks as drivers pass. They are wearing matching white t-shirts with the stars and stripes printed on the chest. One in the group is also carrying a flag that says Warrior Bonfire. It is an unusual sight on a rural road in Douglas County.
They are heading to El Paso County on a five-day journey called the Base to Base march. It started Labor Day Morning at Buckley Space Force Base, goes to the Air Force Academy, then Peterson Space Force Base, and if all goes as planned, ends Friday at Fort Carson.
Questions are good. “Walk to raise awareness for Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD) and then the growing rate of veteran suicide,” said Warrior Bonfire Program, President, Mike Foss.
The non-profit Warrior Bonfire Program planned the march. The group was formed to offer support to Purple Heart Recipients, meaning veterans wounded in the line of duty. PTSD is common among injured military men and women. Untreated PTSD can lead to thoughts of suicide for some.
Event organizers recognized that the purpose of the march needed to expand with the recent United States withdrawal from Afghanistan. “A lot of those veterans are now suffering too,” said Foss. They will need support.
Whether through Warrior Bonfire or another reputable group, if a veteran needing help gets the support they need, it meets the goal of the march. Warrior Bonfire isn't the only thing out there,” said Foss, “Find the organization that you think's doing the best and do whatever you can. Give of your time or your treasure to help an organization that's helping our veterans."