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2 runners embark on 500 mile journey to raise awareness about veteran suicides

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    WALLINGFORD, CT (WFSB) — Two men from Massachusetts are on a mission to Virginia for veterans, and it took them through Connecticut.

Joshua Milich and Brian Tjersland said they’ve embarked on a 500 mile run to raise money to fight and awareness of veteran suicides.

“I don’t think a lot of people understand how severe the problem is, and if we can help by making more people aware, I think that’s the point of this whole thing,” Tjersland said.

They bunked in Wallingford Wednesday night into Thursday morning.

They said their run began on Veterans Day in Cape Cod.

Three days into it, they’ve already dealt with heavy rain and extreme cold.

They call the run “Mission 22.”

The plan is to finish on Nov. 22 at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

By then, and after 50 miles per day, they said they hope to have a lot more people understand the severity of veteran suicides.

“Veterans are an underserved demographic in our country as a whole,” Milich said. “These people give so much to us day in and day out, and I really wanted to give back.”

Both runners said on average, 22 vets a day commit suicide.

“The purpose was to do something so absurd and crazy that it forces people to look and support Mission 22,” Milich said. “Whatever it is that you think you can use to give back to this cause and to give back to the community and give it back to the people that you think deserve it the most.”

Both Milich and Tjersland were scheduled to leave Wallingford around 6 a.m. on Thursday.

Thursday, the two aimed to get from Wallingford to Norwich.

Local runners and spectators went with them to show support.

“They’re all behind us,” Tjersland said. “I’m amazed at how many people are behind us. And it’s fantastic.”

“It takes something this extreme to get eyes on you to be able to push the message like this, and that’s why we did 500 miles,” Milich said. “But yeah, it hurts.”

The next leg of their journey takes through into New York.

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