COLUMBUS, Ga — For the next three weeks, one Columbus man will likely become a familiar face to you if you travel each afternoon between downtown and Fort Benning. Michael Bevis is a veteran who has taken on a very special mission.
Yesterday, Memorial Day, we remembered all the brave women and men we lost fighting for our country. However, there’s a personal war that rages nonstop for many of our veterans who come home– the battle against depression.
Each day in America, 22 veterans commit suicide. Bevis, who has suffered from depression himself after leaving the military, understands the plight and wants to see that change. He began a 22-day journey yesterday– rucking (walking with his backpack) 22 miles a day to bring attention to this national tragedy.
News 3’s Greg Loyd interviewed Bevis about this mission– and why he felt it was important for him to take it.
They pray before this soldier starts a mission like no other.
“I’m rucking 22 miles a day for 22 days in awareness of Veteran’s suicide,” says Bevis.
You’ll see him on the streets of Columbus. The next 22 days– he’ll be walking 22 miles from downtown to Fort Benning and back.
“This is my way of showing that yeah, you don’t have to have a lot of money. You don’t have to have anything but time and a big heart, to say, hey one person can make a difference, and we do care,” Bevis told News 3.
Veterans face more struggles than most of us realize when they return. The trauma of what they see leaves many with a vast void of depression that most civilians don’t understand.
According to Bevis, “You come back and everyone expects you to be normal…and just deal with cars zooming by and people shooting off fireworks. It sounds minute to civilians because they’ve never understood. That sound means you might not come home the next day.”
Ross Marshall is a friend who understands. The Vietnam veteran knows the struggle.
“I know what we experienced coming back. It was like we were a pariah. I have seen a change in that particularly in the south. But I had a conversation yesterday with a young GI that was talking about coming back to his home state of California and being judged about the same things that we were judged for coming back from ‘Nam,” says Marshall.
Bevis adds, “We are a judgmental society. Completely. Whether you look the same way, look right, dress right. Doesn’t matter. We’re all Americans. And that’s the thing we lost sight of.”
Bevis says that pills are not always the answer; he has found cognitive therapy a big help. In addition, talking with his military brothers and sisters who understand what he has been through has also been invaluable to his healing.