When Joseph Cox and Adam Lingo began their journey, they had a goal. They wanted to bring awareness to a growing problem of military veterans who commit suicide.
The two veterans of the Iraqi War began their journey on June 16 at the Santa Monica Pier. They plan to complete it on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, at Arlington National Cemetery.
Their journey, called Walk of Life, will take them along Route 66 bringing them to Yukon on Sunday.
Cox, contacted by telephone, said he, Lingo and a few other military personnel are walking the Mother Road to bring awareness to the number of former soldiers who are dying at their own hands.
“Our main purpose is to focus on veteran suicides. We want everyone focused on it,” he said.
The number of former soldiers committing suicide is at an all-time high. Cox said it takes more than talking to people on social media to stop the problem. It takes real interaction.
“Conversations don’t solve things. We want people to engage a person, actually talk with them. The most common thing we here is ‘I thought I was the only one,’” he said.
“We want people to go talk to their friends.”
The problem, he said, is out of control.
Cox and Lingo were spurred to action after several colleagues committed suicide.
The almost 2,700-mile journey has drawn attention from other groups.
He said more than 300 people are following them on social media sites, and it is not unusual for people to join them on their walk.
Sunday, they will have a meet-and-greet at Hideaway Pizza in Yukon. They encourage people to check their Facebook page to find out more information about their route and the time of the event.
He said the journey to the Arlington National Cemetery will take 22 weeks, but they will make it. They are averaging about 25 miles per day.
Thursday, they were near Clinton and had been joined by Jason Bebo of Fletcher and his daughter in their walk.
Bebo, who also is a veteran, has been helping them map their trip and help with logistics. He also is walking with them across the state.
Cox is a farmer from East Texas, while Lingo is retired and lives in South America.
Cox said the government does have programs set up to veterans deal with issues, but they are not working as well as they should.
He said 20 members of his unit have committed suicide, including one member who helped set up the suicide prevention program.
“This is real personal for us,” he said.
Anyone interested in participating in the walk or the meet and greet can get more information at www.facebook.com/deuceforlife/