RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — On the Saturday before Veterans Day each year, the Wake County Veterans Council organizes a parade down the streets of downtown Raleigh.

The parade honors veterans for serving their country.

In straight lines, armed with the North Carolina and American flags side by side, they marched to honor them. 

80 different groups, including local high school ROTC programs, walked in the parade to say ‘thank you’ to local veterans. 

“I served from 1975 to 1988 in the army,” said Charles Whitaker.

“I served from 1964 to 1984. I’m a retired army sergeant,” said Richard Spyrison, who is now the president of the Wake County Veterans Council. 

While the day is to celebrate North Carolina’s 50,000 veterans, it’s also a day to raise awareness.

“To try and help with suicide prevention,” explained Spyrison.  

According to the Cost of War Project, since 9/11, four times as many veterans and military members died by suicide than died in combat.

It’s a troubling issue Wake County veterans are trying to tackle through the state’s new Operation Green Light program.

“It’s to bring awareness and support to our veterans,” said Spyrison. “What we’re asking businesses and residential people to do, and you don’t have to be a veteran, is to put a green lightbulb in your porch light.”

The program asks people to put green lights up from November 7-13. Wake County buildings will be lit up during the event.

Spyrison told CBS17 they want to do this because their battle doesn’t just end when they leave the service.

“We’re veterans helping veterans any way we possibly can,” he said.