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Veteran suicide motivates Indiana man to make 3,000 mile trek
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By Carol McIntire
Kyle Killinger is closing in on the final leg of a 3,000-mile, four-month journey across the United States to bring awareness to veteran suicide.
He made a stop in Carrollton Saturday, visiting the Blue Star Memorial at the top of Public Square. He was met there by a family whose loved one, a veteran, was lost to suicide.
That’s what it’s about,” Killinger, a veteran himself, said. “Twenty-two veterans commit suicide every day, whether it’s from PTSD, drug or alcohol dependency or something else. I want to let these veterans know they are not alone and offer support to their families.”
The journey for the Columbus, IN, native began July 19 at the Marine Corps Recruitment Depot in San Diego, CA. He started running that day and hasn’t stopped. Initially he ran about 37 miles a day and now covers about 25 per day. He’s put 3,028 miles on his tennis shoes and has 295 to go to reach his destination – the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C.
After the soon-to-be 34-year-old, who served in the Marine Corps from 2007-2009, caught his breath he shared the motivation for the trip.
“I met a man in 2015. His name was Ryan Weldon. He was walking across the country to raise awareness for the cause. He talked me into running 3,000 miles across the country. It started with 300-mile trips each week. I did several of those; the first was to Michigan and back to Indiana,” he explained. “PTSD and suicide are things that haven’t been talked about for years. This is my way to bring awareness to it and sure make sure people who are struggling know they are not alone.”
“He called his journey ‘life changing’ saying, “It’s totally changed my life. “I’ve been able to deal with a lot of things that’s I’ve carried with me for a long time. Hearing the stories are tough, but it’s good to know they are reaching out and I can let them know they are not alone.”
He approached his employer in the spring, outlining his planned journey and asking for four months off from work. It was approved.
Killinger bought an RV and began his search for people who would volunteer to drive the vehicle and follow him. He drove the vehicle to San Diego, a volunteer driver flew out to meet him and the journey began.
He’s not sure what is planned for his arrival in Washington, D.C., but he was certain he wanted it to be at “The Wall.”
“I’d never been to the wall. I visited for the first time last spring and I immediately knew that was where I wanted to end the run,” he said, adding he plans to arrive there Nov. 13.
Killinger formed the non-profit “Because He’s My Brother” to raise awareness, and says proceeds from any donations he receives along the way (minus fuel costs for the RV and camping) will be donated to Save 22, an Ohio non-profit that works to prevent veteran suicide. Local Save 22 officials visited him at the Carrollton stop.
You can follow his journey on Facebook at Because He’s My Brother.
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