I am writing this blog in response to Damyanti Biswas’ call for adding a bit of light to what seems to be a rather dark world at this time in our history. The idea is to obliterate the hate and negativity we have all become so used to seeing and hearing and to move our gaze to those things which are positive. Damyanti’s site is Daily (W)rite.
I went looking for a story that would raise our hearts up to the sky, and I think I found a winner. Ernesto Rodriguez is walking across America to raise awareness for veterans who have returned from the war, only to commit suicide when they come home.
Rodriguez is making the trek from his hometown, Clarksville, Tennessee to Los Angeles, California, and is keeping a journal as he travels the 2,200 miles he has set out to finish. His hashtag #Forthe22 stands for the approximately 22 warriors who commit suicide every day in the US.
This journey has personal relevance for the 34-year-old since he shares that he attempted suicide on two occasions. WFAA8 Dallas reports:
“I was in a really bad way after my first tour in Afghanistan and my second,” he said in the interview. “I have a daughter, and she would have been without a father. And that’s what I think about when thoughts like that creep up.”
Rodriguez does not accept donations himself but asks that the people he meets and the folks who hear about his trek send their donations to veteran’s charities*. He also requests that people find a veteran with whom they can be friends.
*Some organizations aimed at helping veterans include: