Retired Marine raising awareness of veteran suicide learns to overcome his own trauma

Posted at 6:51 AM, Aug 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-26 08:34:30-04

CINCINNATI — As a documentary film crew for the film "22 And You" followed retired Marine John Preston on his journey to raise awareness of veteran suicide, he learned how he can help alleviate his own pain and struggle.

The revelation came a few days into filming for a documentary. The plan was for Preston to hike 22 miles a day for 22 days while carrying 22 kilograms, about 50 pounds, of gear to raise awareness of veteran suicides.

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A few days into the hike though, Preston's feet started to blister.

"There was nothing that was gonna stop me from walking," Preston said. "Carrying the pack was something that became the problem."

Preston wasn't going to put the pack down though, because inside it were some of his brother's personal belongings. Preston's brother, Michael, took his own life in 2016 after struggling with PTSD after his military service.

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So Preston took to social media and asked for help, and his post garnered a lot of attention. Veterans, police officers and firefighters from around the country volunteered to help him carry the pack.

"They were there as quick as possible, saying, 'Can I take that off your back?'" Preston said. "[They] continued to show up to want to carry the weight for me."

That was the first time Preston asked for help, and then it clicked for him.

Preston realized this is the kind of help he has been talking about with others for years. A realization that his and Michael's mother, Diana Preston, has known about.

"You've got people you can talk to," Diana said. "You can mend your life. You don't believe it, but you can."

If you or someone you know is struggling with PTSD or suicidal thoughts brought on by PTSD, you can contact the Cincinnati VA Medical Center by clicking this link here or calling them at 513-861-3100 or 859-572-6208.