Local veteran marches 22 miles for veteran suicide awareness
SOUTH BEND, Ind. –
Memorial Day is a day to remember those who gave the greatest sacrifice while serving their country, but for one local veteran it’s also a day to bring awareness to the veteran suicide rate.
"My biggest message is just for veterans to put their ego aside and go get help if they need help,” said Army Veteran Kyle Ingle.
It’s a message close to his heart after losing a best friend.
Ingle walked 22 miles on Monday for his brother in arms, Adam Campbell, who took his own life exactly two years ago.
"I met Adam, I mean I don't know what grade it was,” said Ingle. “We've been together forever pretty much."
From classes to combat, the pair did it all growing up. They even had matching tattoos.
"We both enlisted together while we were still in high school, then shipped off together," said Ingle.
While oversees, the Ingle and Campbell were stationed at different bases, but did run into each other once. After a year of deployment, it was coming home that proved to be a struggle.
"A lot of veterans when they come back, you're very stressed, you're very on edge. And that was 100 percent the case for everybody in my platoon," said Ingle.
That was the case for Campbell as well. The struggle to transition back to normal life at home took a toll.
Ingle says he found it important to connect with a community of positive people to work through the transition. He feels Campbell wasn’t able to make enough of those connections coming home.
Still, the news caught him off guard.
"I'll never forget when Conrad called me late that night and said ‘Hey man Adam took his life today,’” said Ingle.
That was on Memorial Day in 2016.
Now, Ingle is determined to find triumph after the tragedy. The 22-mile march ended at Campbell’s gravesite. Ingle carried a 45 pound pack for the march.
It’s a walk with a purpose, to make sure the next veteran struggling knows where to turn.
"Not only to keep Adam's memory alive but in addition to that to just help one veteran. Get one. Somebody to see this and say ‘I am the macho man that doesn't ask for help, I do need to ask for help," said Ingle.
This is the second Memorial March Ingle has walked. He plans to make it an annual tradition.
"It's going to be a little hotter than last year," said Ingle minutes before starting the walk. "Last year we did 17 miles, 22 miles is the goal, it's not the goal, that's what's happening. I'm raising awareness around the 22 veterans' suicides per day."
This year he hopes to help local veterans by raising money for Kernan’s Heros in South Bend.
Ingle hopes to raise $10,000. A link to donate can be found here.