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March for 22: bringing awareness to veteran suicide

March for 22 at UW-Oshkosh on November 10, 2016 (WLUK/Mike Moon)

OSHKOSH (WLUK) -- We are on the eve of Veterans Day and to honor the holiday, a group marched on the UW-Oshkosh campus to bring awareness to suicide among veterans.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 22 veterans are lost to suicide each day in the U.S.

For many veterans, the issue of suicide is a dark cloud, something they deal with all too often.

"For me, personally, I've lost individuals in my unit to suicide. I've had suicidal tendencies myself," said Aaron Kloss, president of the Student Veterans Association at UW-Oshkosh.

These 22 people represent the 22 veterans that are said to die by suicide each day in the United States.

"Thinking about 22 veterans, knowing that maybe one of those could be my family members...that is a big number," said Kimberly Hetzel, the association vice president.

For the UW-Oshkosh Student Veterans Association, that number is unacceptable.

The Association members held a March for 22 to raise awareness about the issue Thursday.

They told FOX 11 one reason the number is so high is that it can be difficult for vets to ask for help when they return from combat.

"Not everybody really understands where we've been, what we've done, what we've seen," Kloss explained.

"There is still a pretty big stigma, mainly against the male population, I mean there is against the female, but males are supposed to be 'strong' and not supposed to show their feelings," Hetzel added.

So they ask that if you see someone struggling with their mental health, have a straightforward conversation with that person.

"Learning how to say, 'are we talking about suicide?'" said Kloss.

Association members ask military members who are struggling to please get help.

"If you do have something going on there are so many people out there who are willing to help," said Hetzel.

But it all begins with a conversation.

"Check in with them real quick, 'how was your night? How are you doing today?' Sometimes that's all it takes," Kloss advised.

And the hope is this two point two mile walk is the first step in having that conversation.

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