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Veteran Walking 2,220 Miles To Raise Suicide Awareness

By Lauren Gilger, Stina Sieg
Published: Thursday, March 9, 2017 - 3:22pm
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(Photo courtesy of Twitter)
Ernesto L. Rodriguez

Ernesto Rodriguez served 15 years in the U.S. Army; he was airborne infantry for most of it.

He was medically retired, and, when he got home, he saw a lot of his fellow veterans — and friends — lost to suicide. He faced his own demons and attempted to take his own life twice.

Now after finding help through a vast support system of other veterans, he’s trying to do something to raise awareness about what he calls the epidemic of veteran suicide in America.

He’s walking 2,200 miles from Tennessee to Los Angeles, meeting with veterans and veterans groups along the way.  He made it to Phoenix last week, and he came to our studios to talk with about his journey.

"The number 22 has a huge significance to veteran suicide. The 2012 census actually stated that 22 veterans commit suicide daily. That number has dropped, but not significantly. And it’s too many. I mean one’s too many, but in the reality it’s going to happen. But to have 22 is an epidemic," Rodriguez said.

As he’s walked, Rodriguez has connected with many veterans and non-veterans alike — and has chronicled his experience on social media, where he goes by the handle @nerdnesto.

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