Two Soldiers from the Michigan National Guard will march across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to raise awareness about veteran suicide this month. First Lt. Cody Cass and Staff Sgt. Michael Beattie, of the 107th Engineer Battalion, 177th Military Police Brigade, plan to march more than 300 miles to show support for veterans who are suffering from the painful but silent grip of depression.
The Soldiers will begin their journey in Ironwood on Saturday, May 13, and end at the National Guard Armory in Sault Ste. Marie on May 26. They will march an average of 22 miles daily in memory of the estimated 22 veterans that commit suicide each day.
Cass has been with the Ishpeming based unit for nine years and considers the entire Upper Peninsula his community. He said the choice to cross the great expanse of forest and waterways was an easy one.
“Beattie and I wanted to do something significant to honor vets who have made the devastating choice to take their own lives, and hopefully help to prevent future losses,” said Cass. “We wanted to show vets that their brothers and sisters do care. This is walk will be extremely difficult, and that made it the perfect task to show our resolve.”
The Michigan National Guard has taken a strong stance in support of Soldiers who may be struggling. Maj. Gen. Gregory Vadnais, the Adjutant General and Director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs said the issue of veteran suicide is one that affects the entire force.
“All too often service members do not seek help because of the stigma attached,” said Vadnais. “It is time to break that stigma and safeguard the wellbeing of our Guard family, from Detroit to Marquette and from Ironwood to Port Huron.”