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Billings gym starts walk aimed at stopping veteran suicide

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Posted at 5:03 PM, Dec 22, 2022

A motorcycle club started Walk The Bridge to bring attention to the approximately 22 veterans and first responders who commit suicide each day.

Walk The Bridge started four years ago on a bridge between two small towns near Dallas.

Since September, Billings has also joined the cause.

Every month on the 22nd, concerned citizens come out to Swords Park to Walk The Bridge to support veterans and raise awareness about veteran suicide.

For the last four months, Billings has been one of the few cities in the country that also holds the event.

The group walks on the Rims from Swords to a spot near the airport roundabout and back for a 2.2-mile journey.

"#WalkTheBridge is a movement that recognizes the 22 veterans a day that take their life," said Karen Pearson, Adaptive Performance Center cofounder.

Citizens in the two Texas towns, Rockwall and Rowlett, started the walk in 2018 for veterans and first responders.

Billings is among the group that also includes Fort Worth, Texas, Dothan, Alabama, Springfield, Missouri, Chicago, London and Singapore.

Robert Colston, who served in the US Navy, says veterans can have a tough time coming home after deployment with a potential for suicide.

"I've had friends that have died overseas,” Colston said. “Either from what you see or from what you feel, if whether it's survivor's guilt or a variety of different things, every veteran probably struggles with it at one point or another."

He works out at the Adaptive Performance Center where veterans get a chance to bond with each other.

"Sometimes it's easier to talk to fellow veterans," Colston said.

"Military individuals have seen combat and been deployed,” Pearson said. “It's really hard to come back because they feel isolated and alone."

Pearson and Mitch Crouse founded and run the Adaptive Performance Center.

And they started Walk the Bridge in Billings.

"The young man that came up and was talking to the founder down there and said that ‘you guys kind of saved my life here with this.’ He started walking with them, and he literally, he was ready to commit suicide. And with the walk and everything and talking to the other vets, he found that he still had a purpose and he could keep going."

"The mission of APC is to make what seems impossible possible,” Pearson said. “Eliminate veteran suicides."