NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) — March for the 22 held its fourth annual Veterans Day event on Saturday, bringing participants from Maysville to New Bern in an effort to raise awareness to increasing veteran suicide rates.

During the march, participants had 22 pounds of weight in backpacks that they wore throughout it.  Charlotte, Martin, who is the sponsorship chair, said her reason for contributing so much to veteran suicide prevention is because of how hard it hits home for her,  

“I grew up with a very military present family,” she said. “Suicide prevention is something very near and dear to my heart. And when you look at the statistics< 22 veterans a day are on average committing suicide, there’s a problem there.” 

Co-founder Adin Colon said the motivation he has stems from the veterans he knew who became victims of suicide. The slogan “Embrace the suck” is something that he has coined to encourage the cause and to remind veterans who are struggling through tough times, that they have a whole support system to lean on.  

“You know, I get emotional because the whole time leading up to this and you know every day, especially during this event, I think about those people that are no longer here that couldn’t fight anymore,” he said. “They couldn’t bear to take another punch in life. And we’re here to say that those that are here and still with us, we’re taking those punches with you.” 

The organizers of March for the 22 want people to understand that it’s more than just a one-day event. Their funds are continuing to support veterans every single day for their daily needs.  

“We help veteran families in need, we have put veterans in hotels that are homeless, we have filled refrigerators and pantries of groceries for veterans that need it,” Martin said. “We have sponsored dog training services so that a veteran can have a trained dog.” 

When March for the 22 started in its first year, it had just 10 people join in on the cause. Now, over 150 participants have come together, and the organization looks forward to seeing continued growth in the future.