"The Shepherd's Men" run to raise awareness of PTSD

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LYNCHBURG (WSLS 10) - Fifteen active duty members of the military are raising awareness about PTSD and veteran suicide.

The group is running down the east coast from Boston to Atlanta to spread the message and raise money for the cause.

One of those runners, Troy Campbell, is from Madison Heights just outside Lynchburg.

He's been working with this group for three years to raise money for the SHARE Military Initiative, that cares for soldiers with PTSD.

He says he got involved after hearing from the wife of a veteran about how that program saved his life.

"She said my husband just graduated the SHARE Military Initiative and without this program, he wouldn't be here," said Campbell.

Campbell says it was that story that made him realize he needed to join 14 other men who dedicate their time every year to try and save lives of their brothers and sisters in uniform.

Tuesday, the crew ran a 14 mile leg of their journey into Lynchburg, and they were greeted by veterans from the American Legion.

"When they found out they were coming through Lynchburg, we rolled out the red carpet for them," said Vietnam War Veteran David Stokes.

The troops, wearing 22-pound flak jackets representing the 22 veterans who commit suicide every day, made their way up the square to the Vietnam Memorial, in honor of the 50th anniversary.

"Our Vietnam generation that, they didn't get that greeting when they came home and every single one of them swore..." said Campbell.

"One generation of veterans will not turn our back on another. That's why we're supporting these guys," said Stokes.

Supporting them with a check for $1,200, helping the Shepherd's Men toward their goal of raising a million.

Right now, the group has pulled in more than $330 thousand.

Campbell says coming to his home town makes him realize why their work is so important.

"I get to see my dad and my mom and my wife, and you start to realize that there's so many veterans out there that, they don't evNer get to do that again. So this is just one day, and that's the rest of their life, so we've got to get the awareness out, we've got to stop the epidemic that is military veteran suicides," said Campbell.

The Shepherd's Men will run their next leg through Roanoke Wednesday morning on their way to Knoxville, Tennessee.