Reporting for duty: One man walks his way to raise awareness
Every day, around 17 military veterans take their own lives, according to a 2019 US Department of Veterans Affairs study.
One Dartmouth resident is raising awareness of veteran suicide — as well as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other mental health issues veterans face — by walking 22 miles through town on Nov. 11 for Veterans Day.
Jason Ray, a former US Army member who was stationed in Hawaii, is undertaking the fundraising walk as an ambassador for Mission 22, a non-profit that provides services to support the veteran community.
Ray said that he decided to start walking for the cause after a recent injury kept him from cycling for a while, and has been training on long walks around town since the start of October.
“I set a goal for myself,” he said. “I’m training for Veterans Day.”
Ray plans to walk from UMass Dartmouth to the Westport River on Veterans Day, and hopes to raise at least $500 for the non-profit through a Facebook fundraiser.
“I didn’t see combat but I know a lot of people and have a lot of friends who have,” he said. “[Doing this] just brings awareness to their situation.”
Mission 22 provides treatment programs to veterans for PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and other issues, as well as services for victims of military sexual trauma.
It also organizes events and builds memorials to raise awareness, and provides support to families of veterans who died by suicide as well, Ray noted.
He said that he supports the organization because it provides more programs and services than many others.
“They help veterans themselves, and the families and children of servicemembers who have lost their lives, so they’re there for them too,” he explained. “That’s what I like about them.”
As for his own involvement in the mission, he noted, “It’s really just a personal thing.”
“I’m just trying to get everybody involved in helping the veterans in our community to come out and get the help that they need,” said Ray.