PALO ALTO (KRON) — It’s a tragic phenomenon — thousands of U.S. veterans take their own lives each year, many suffering from post-traumatic stress.
In the Bay Area, there’s one Marine Corps veteran who is bringing attention to the problem by going on a major hike across California.
“We need to get this message to the entire world,” John Preston explains. “Stop killing yourself! That’s the truth. Stop killing yourself.”
37-year-old Preston aims to spread that message to help veterans and first responders struggling with depression and PTSD by hiking 22 miles a day, carrying 22 kilos of weight on his back.
This U.S. Marine Iraq war veteran and current Palo Alto firefighter says his mission is to bring attention to the 22 veterans who commit suicide everyday.
“It’s called 22 and You,” Preston explains. “January 13 and it runs all the way to February 7th. We are starting in downtown Palo Alto at city hall. We are ending at the USS Midway in San Diego. That is 577 miles. I am going to do what I can to make this issue that we are dealing with, this problem we have in the veteran community, I am going to make it loud.”
Preston is an accomplished singer/songwriter who was touring back in 2016 when he says he got a devastating call that his older brother Michael committed suicide.
His brother was also a U.S. Marine veteran who was working as a police officer at the time of the incident.
Now, he’s teamed up with studios and Veterans Powered Films to document his journey to raise awareness and maybe even help himself deal with his own battle with post-traumatic stress.
“I need to do this. I need to help. I need to be a part of something again. Let’s start thinking positively and let’s start moving toward whatever it is you want to do,” he said.
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