SULPHUR, Okla. (KXXI) - 150 people registered to walk at the Sulphur Veterans Center Saturday morning to help spread awareness of the day to day suicide rate among veterans.
Crystal House, walking participant and mother of Army Specialist Kaleb George. House said her son took his life in May — and on Saturday's walk — she wore his boots and medic bag filled with 22 pound wights.
“The average number out there is 22 veterans who take their lives daily,” said Cathi Neal, event coordinator with the Walk a mile in our boots.
The solemn walk was 2.2 miles, 1.1 miles going down 301 E. Farline Avenue into the Chickasaw Recreational Area and 1.1 miles back to the veterans center.
Participant Crystal House said she is walking with sister and mother to honor her late son, Army Specialist Kaleb George who took his life last May.
"Until he committed suicide, I had no idea that over 20 veterans committed suicide a day. I didn't have a clue until my son became a statistic,” said House. "He would be proud. He would've done it with me, and in a way he did it with me."
Her son Kaleb was a combat medic, graduating in 2017 from Advanced Individual Training. During Saturday’s walk, House honored her son by wearing his boots and backpack filled with weights.
"This was his med bag, so I put 22 pounds of weights in it this morning just as a reminder of the weight they carry everyday,” said House.
Neal, a daughter of a World War Two veteran said the number 22 has become a rallying cry to bring attention to suicide among veterans.
"So, it's an awareness event to insure that people understand that our veterans are coming home and they're still having some difficulties,” said Neal.
She said the walk bring veterans and civilians together to help ease the physical and mental wounds of the military.
"It's really important to spread the word and it's events like this that helps end that,” said House.
Neal said the event was put on by three nonprofits: Flames to Hope, Changing Course and Beyond Brotherhood — all in Oklahoma.
"I want veterans to know that for sure that we love you and we want to help you in any possible way we can,” said Neal.