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22-mile walk to bring awareness to veteran suicides

According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, an average of 22 veterans commit suicide every day.

With the goal of raising awareness and funds to help lower that number, Cody Bragwell and Caleb Thompson organized Operation 22, a 22-mile walk set for Saturday, March 10, 2018.

Bragwell served in the United States Marine Corps, and Thompson is a veteran of the Army National Guard. The two men were alarmed by the high number of veteran suicides. With 22 veterans taking their lives each day, that's a suicide every 65 minutes.

Caleb came up with the idea. He'd seen it done in other areas of the country. He called me before Christmas and asked if I would help with it,” Bragwell said. “It has become way bigger than we ever thought it was going to.”

Proceeds from the walk, its sponsorships and t-shirt sales will go to www.militaryveteranproject.org. The non-profit organization supports research and alternative treatments for military suicide prevention.

The walk will begin in Russellville at Southside Baptist Church on Highway 43 South. Participants will walk a 22-mile route that ends at the Natchez Trace Harley-Davidson, 595 U.S. Highway 72 West in Tuscumbia.

Entry fees for the walk will be $30 for adults the day of the race. All participants will receive an Operation 22 t-shirt. The walk will begin at 6:30 a.m.

Bragwell said the response to the fund raiser has been overwhelming. There are 26 sponsors whose names appear on the t-shirts, and Bragwell said he expects more than 20 walkers. Other ways to support the cause include purchasing an Operation 22 t-shirt or making a donation.

There will be a charity motorcycle show at the Natchez Trace Harley-Davidson at the conclusion of the 22-mile walk. There will be a live band and food truck on site at the Harley dealership.

We expect to arrive there between 3 and 4 p.m.,” Bragwell said. “Everyone is invited to join us there and enjoy the motorcycle show. A percentage of sales from the food truck will be donated to www.militaryveteranproject.org.

We'll have a military truck following us on the 22-mile walk. Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow has loaned us the truck and it will have a banner with the names of people who made donations but didn't walk,” he added.

For more information, follow Operation 22 on Facebook, or contact Bragwell at 256-460-1793 or Thompson at 256-668-9475.


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