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“Walk with Warriors” offers mental health support to Veterans

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Lee Walraven

ONALASKA, Wis. (WXOW) - The R.W. Houser Family YMCA hosted the seventh annual "Walk with Warriors" event on Saturday.

Seven years ago, Lee Walraven and over twenty more volunteers started the "Walk with Warriors" event to create support for Veterans with mental health struggles. Saturday morning, hundreds were in attendance.

The Walk is a 2.2 mile journey starting at the Houser YMCA location. The veterans and their supporters traversed on the sidewalk path. Located on the path were mental health counselors to provide a connection to veterans to share their stories.

"We encourage people to talk with the counselor. If they've been having struggles or just intimidated by the idea of talking with somebody about the struggles they're having, the stories that come from that are amazing," said Lee Walraven, a Veteran and Director of Healthy Living for YMCA.

Additionally, "The Y is Medicine" signs accompanied the walkers on their route.

After the walk, the event-goers returned to tents offering engagement, community, and resources. Walraven aimed to create a community for the Veterans in attendance.

"22 Veterans are dying to suicide daily. So we wanted to create a walk to bring awareness to that. So we started a walk," added Walraven.

Furthermore, the next "Walk With Warriors" event is planned for the first weekend of June in 2022.

Sam Dunnum

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