By Max Hrenda
In making the public more aware about the growing problem of military suicide, retired Marine Corps Sgt. Chuck Lewis is taking it one step at a time.
On March 31, the 62-year-old Lewis began a more than 3,200-mile trek across the U.S. to raise awareness for these at-risk veterans in his campaign, “Walking for the Fallen.”
“A lot of our young men and women are dying by their own hand,” Lewis said. “I don’t think it’s right. My answer is to get out into the public eye and get attention.”
Lewis, whose walk led him through Carter County on Monday, knows that many of today’s soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen could find themselves at greater risk when they return home than on the battlefield. In 2012, data from the Department of Defense showed that more active-duty military personnel committed suicide than were killed in action during Operation Enduring Freedom. More than 6,000 active-duty military personnel have taken their own lives since 2005.
Creating awareness for military suicide is one of four reasons that Lewis began “Walking for the Fallen.” His original campaign, known as “Standing for the Fallen,” was designed as a military awareness campaign. That campaign changed after a soldier returned to his hometown of Ronan, Mont. – where Lewis lives – in June 2012.