SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - A local group is taking a 32-mile “Walk for the Fallen” to raise awareness for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among veterans.
The nonprofit, Grappling PTSD, located in Summerville provides resources for people in the community.
One of the founders, Dwight Decker, says he knows the effects of PTSD and friends and family who have been impacted by suicide and he wants to give back to the community.
For the past six years, a group of people walked from Summerville to Mount Pleasant to raise awareness for veterans with PTSD. They’re also raising money to support veteran programs and organizations.
They start the walk at 3 a.m. and finish around noon.
They say they walk for those who can't.
Decker, a disabled veteran who served in the Navy, wants people to know there are people who want to help.
"You're not alone, you're definitely not alone," Decker said. "We have resources through my organization that can help you and take care of you and get you the help that you need and you're not alone."
He says each year they have an honor cloth where they write the names of people locally and beyond who commit suicide each year. At the end of the walk in Memorial Waterfront Park in Mount Pleasant they will read the names aloud to honor them.
"It went from 50 names, to 150 to 200, 300 and now we're up over 400 names in six years," Decker said.
Decker says he chose walking for the cause because someone told him he couldn't do.
"I said I bet you I can and that's how this was born ," Decker said.
An organizer and retired firefighter, David Diaz, says 22 veterans a day commit suicide.
“In reality, it’s a little bit more with self infliction,” Diaz said. “You also have to include the overdoes and alcoholism to go with that and our mission is from 22 to get to mission zero because one is too many and 22 is definitely too much.”
Diaz says watching the “Walk for the Fallen” grow is true blessing.
Anytime you get to help somebody and be part of something that's growing, making awareness, it actually gives you a little tug on your heart strings," Diaz said.
Some of the walkers also brought their children along to participate.
"Tell somebody you care about them, if you see a vet tell them thank you for your service," Diaz said. "Let them know that they're not alone."