Michigan Marine veteran hiking through Michiana to raise awareness for veteran suicide

NOW: Michigan Marine veteran hiking through Michiana to raise awareness for veteran suicide

BRIDGMAN, Mich. -- A Michigan Marine veteran is on a mission to try and save veteran lives. 

“I was out doing some hiking by Manistee and got the idea that I would want to go on a bigger trip,” said Travis Snyder. “I think within a matter of minutes I had the idea to tie it into a bigger cause that hit home for me.”

Snyder is hiking around all of Lake Michigan in an effort to raise awareness about veteran suicide. 

“I think the biggest challenge for somebody struggling is helping them see they have a lot to offer and they have a purpose,” said Snyder. 

He started hiking counterclockwise around the lake in August. He expects to finish his trip October 6. 

This week he’ll make stops in the Michiana area, traveling to Michigan City on Tuesday, Bridgman on Wednesday, and St. Joseph on Thursday. 

“Hopefully those who have the authority and the power to do so can maybe help us make some changes that allow us to look out for our veterans,” said Snyder. “It’s bringing awareness to those victims as (well as) what resources are available to them to get through their challeneges.” 

The 840 mile journey is personal for Holland native. 

After he returned from Afghanistan in April 2018, a few of his friends died by suicide. 

“It really hit home for myself and the guys I served with,” said Snyder. 

In a report released this month, the Department of Veterans Affairs said on average, 27.7 veterans die by suicide each day. 

“I just wanted to take an extra step and really amplify that message to people who are struggling with PTSD and mental health challeneges and suicidial tendencies and let them know they’re not alone,” said Snyder. “That they have a purpose.” 

That same report says the suicide rate for veterans is 1.5 times higher than the national rate. 

“Then the message to those that are healing from losing somebody (is to) let them know they’re not alone in the healing process,” said Snyder. “To those who can’t really empathize with the whole epidemic, let them know they can make a huge difference just by doing the little things. A smile, a wave, a hello.” 

Snyder says the people he’s met and the conversations he’s had so far on his trip have been impactful. He’s hopeful more resources can be allocated to fighting the issue. 

“I think what it does is it kind of breeds itself and builds momentum in the military community and from there it also encourages us to maybe talk,” said Snyder. 

To follow Snyder’s journey or contact him, click here.

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