Nacogdoches man walks across America to end veteran suicides

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A Nacogdoches veteran has taken a stand to raise awareness of the growing epidemic the suicides by other returning soldiers by walking from Los Angeles to Washington D.C.

Joseph Cox and other veterans created Walk of Life as a way to show support for this issue.

"During the planning of this, we started talking about the suicide awareness," Cox said. "A real good friend of ours wrote a suicide note on March 31 and killed himself."

On average, 22 veterans take their own lives every day. Another friend of Cox's took his life. And, during the walk, Cox made it his mission to represent this man at his sister's wedding.

"Chris, you know, he was a real good friend of mine," Cox said. "And, in the last deployment we lost him and six other guys in a house explosion. If Chris couldn't be there, you know, we would go and be there. And, we'd be her big brother."

The average day for Cox was almost as strict as his past life in the military.

"Standard day is just get up, check all your gear, make sure it's all good to go," Cox said. "Go out and walk four or five hours, then we'll come back. And, do any kind of refit we have to do here at the camp. You know, some days we have to move, some days we don't."

Cox relied on his East Texas upbringing to get him through the hard days.

"Things happen along the way. The truck's messed up a couple of times," Cox said. "I've been able to work on everything, just because that's what I done growing up. Working on the farm, you work up a lot of muscular endurance, especially during hay season and stuff like that."

The walking took up a lot of time, but the driving force for Cox and the others was to end to the depression that had taken away so many of their friends.

"And, while we're doing this, we're also meeting with different groups that are offering alternative options, than just regular groups or group counseling," Cox said.

And, just about anyone can help with this cause.

"You go talk to somebody for twenty to thirty minutes," Cox said. "You might change their day. You might get twenty two more years of life out of that person, you never know."

As of Monday, Cox and his crew had made it to the St. Louis area, just over 800 miles from the finish line.

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