BALTIMORE, Md. (CBS News) — Marathon enthusiasts Brian Tjersland and Josh Milich are on the longest run of their lives. They are running 500 miles in 12 days, from Massachusetts National Cemetery on Cape Cod to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
They’re averaging more than 40 miles a day, braving rain, snow and injury, to raise awareness of veteran suicides. CBS News caught up with them in Philadelphia.
Tjersland is a real estate appraiser and Milich serves in the Coast Guard. They decided to use their passion for running to raise money for Mission 22, a non-profit organization providing treatment to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress.
“It’s OK to not be OK and no one’s going to judge you for feeling the way that you do,” Milich said.
Seventeen veterans die by suicide every day in the U.S and there are more than 6,000 lives lost a year. Former Indiana National Guardsman Bryan Westerfield, who served in Iraq, was almost one of them.
“It is all of the failures over and over again. I stayed in that hole for so long I didn’t see a way out,” Westerfield said.
He helps Mission 22 counsel other veterans and he’s also backing Tjersland and Milich on their mission to spread hope.
“There’s people out there that need to hear this message and it is worth every ounce of pain that we are experiencing these two weeks,” Westerfield said
For immediate help if you are in a crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are confidential.
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