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SOLO MISSION: Marine veteran plans marathon to raise suicide awareness

Devan Wanek prepares for marathon

ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) - According to the VA, 22 veterans a day commit suicide. To raise awareness, one Marine veteran is putting himself in his fellow solider's shoes for a day.

It started when a friend and fellow Marine invited him to do a push-up challenge on Facebook. Devan Wanek then got the idea to do something more strenuous than push ups.

Saturday morning, Wanek plans to run a marathon from his home in Dodge Center to Soldiers Field Memorial in Rochester. He is running alone to understand how isolated some of his fellow soldiers feel who struggle with mental health issues.

Wanek plans to leave at 6 in the morning and hopes to complete the course in under four hours.

"That's ideally how hard I'm looking to push myself," Wanek said. "If it takes me longer, I'll take however long it takes to reach the finish line."

He is also hoping to raise $30,000 for the organization Mission 22. So far, several people have already helped Wanek get closer to his goal.

Wanek hopes to do something for those veterans who find in difficult to return back to normal life.

"When you look to your left and right and see some bad stuff happen, you don't ever forget that," the former Marine said. "What Mission 22 does is offer free programs to veterans struggling with this. It gets them the help they need."

Wanek says the issue is one that hits close to home, he has had military friends commit suicide.

He urges veterans to stay in touch with others in order to share their military experiences and feel less alone.

You can donate to Wanek's mission here.

Alex Tejada

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