Third annual Veteran Suicide Awareness March

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MADISON, S.D. (KSFY) - Veterans Day is a day to honor those who have served. Saturday participants walked 22 laps around the Trojan Field track to bring awareness to veteran suicide.

About 50 people walked the track at Dakota State University. Some of those people were touched by this tragedy most never plan to go through.

Jacob Schaefers is a Marine Corps veteran whose friend committed suicide.

"He called me up one night and I was busy and wasn't able to hang out with him and then the next night I found out that he committed suicide. So it's been something near and dear to me," Schaefers said.

According to research, 22 veterans commit suicide each day. It's something Schaefers says needs to be talked about and wants to see more help for the veterans feeling alone.

Austin Slaughter serves in the South Dakota National Guard. We went overseas and served in Afghanistan in 2009 knowing exactly what's it's like to come home completely changed.

"This gives us an opportunity to show them how many people are here to support them and the support staff that they have," Slaughter said.

Many veterans are stuck in the darkness and they're looking at suicide as a way to get out. Each participant Saturday walked 22 laps for those 22 veterans who die each day.

"I think that this is something that we can keep doing each year and I think we'll get more and more people. Even if you don't do 22 laps just come out, have some coffee or cocoa," Schaefers said. "It's a tragedy that we lost the people that we do from it, but I want to focus on everyone that's there and making sure that people know that sometimes we struggle."

This was the third year for the Veteran Suicide Awareness March. Money was raised for Mission 22, an organization that helps struggling veterans.