Veterans from all over Kern County gathered Saturday morning for the fourth annual Silkies Hike.
The veterans walked over 15 miles in honor of the 22 veterans who die by suicide every day. They say this walk is to bring awareness, but to also bring veterans together, create a relationship and let them know they’re not alone.
“Twenty-two veterans [die by suicide] everyday,” said Eric Hansen, a local veteran and the organizer of today’s event. “It’s been a consistent number and what we’re trying to do is just remind each other that you’re not alone. There’s no need to take your own life.”
For one man, this walk and the friendships made are lifesaving.
“I’ve been able to talk to people that have or know the same symptoms that I do,” said Daniel Sanchez.
Sanchez served seven years in the army and now battles with PTSD and suicidal thoughts.
“I would go out on dates and map out the places that I was going to, to see where my exits were, where was the best place to park, what has the least traffic, what’s the closest entrance to a freeway,” said Sanchez. “So, I can get out of that situation.”
But he says this group of veterans helps him get through it. And now he walks for the 15 veteran friends he has lost this year.
“All of them I’ve served with in various points of my military career,” said Sanchez. “I’m walking to bring awareness to military members that suffer from PTSD, have committed suicide or are thinking of committing suicide.”
The veterans made stops at Temblor, Casa Tequila and many other locations to hydrate and eat. All proceeds will be donated to military families.