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“When PTSD Hits Home” awareness event this weekend

John Willoughby: Greene Publishing, Inc.

The "When PTSD Hits Home" walk/run takes place this weekend and what better way to raise awareness of PTSD than to help support "When PTSD Hits Home" and Mission 22.

Sarah Leigh McGraw, who has seen first-hand the reality of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), has created the support group "When PTSD Hits Home" and invites everyone to the first annual "They marched for us, lets march for them" walk/run around Lake Frances to raise awareness for local and nationwide veterans who suffer from PTSD. The event is scheduled for Saturday, May 26, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

According to the US Department of Veteran Affairs, PTSD is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault. It's normal to have upsetting memories, feel on edge, or have trouble sleeping after such a traumatic event. Symptoms of PTSD include reliving the event, avoiding situations that remind a person of such an event, having negative beliefs or feelings and/or feeling on edge (hyperarousal).

"What about the Veterans who don't have a loving family or friends upon whom they can lean?  The ones who feel hopelessly lost in the battle of their mind? This prompted me to poke around and what I found hurt my heart. Studies indicate that a staggering 22 veterans commit suicide each day and that's just 22 too many. Especially when there is hope. Thus, the birth of this [organization]," said McGraw.

In regards to Mission 22 , they are an organization whose Board of Directors is comprised of three Special Forces operators: Magnus Johnson, Mike Kissel and Infantryman Brad Hubbard, all of whom have all had personal battles with PTSD. Their mission is to raise awareness, enlist and gain support, and end veteran suicide in America.

If you would like to participate, there are two choices of entry: early bird paid registration and non-paid. Early Bird Paid Registration comes with a t-shirt, a race bib, and safety pins, as well as the chance to win a 12-week custom nutrition and work-out program by Ryan Engel of RE Fitness. Paid entry is $25. Non-paid entry is still a great way to support local and nationwide veterans and help bring awareness to the cause. Other raffle prizes throughout the event will include a $20 Road ID gift certificate.

McGraw has also announced that a trip to the Florida Keys will be raffled off, where you will embark on a three day, two night trip to the Hyatt Resort with docking privileges in a beautiful marina. Included will be a $150 gift certificate for the Lighthouse Grill, in Marathon, Fl. Tickets are $5 and you may call McGraw at (850) 869-0566 or email her at whoimis@icloud.com.

Gather your friends and family for this wonderful opportunity to support veterans who suffer from PTSD. You can walk, run or roll individually or as a team for 22 minutes, 22 laps, teams of 22, 2.2 miles, or 2.2 hours. Proceeds will benefit Mission 22. During the event, chicken dinners will be sold for $5. The dinner will include chicken, baked beans and a roll.

To register for the event, go to eventbrite.com and type "Let's walk for them!" in the search bar. Lake Frances is located at SE Lakeshore Drive, in Madison.

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