Operation VEST holds 22 Degree Run and Plunge for veteran suicide prevention
Operation VEST held its second annual 22 Degree Run and Plunge Saturday to raise money in an effort to stop veteran suicides.
About 300 people braved the frigid cold waters by taking a dip in the Great South Bay.
Participants also ran or walked a 2.2-mile course to raise money and awareness for veteran suicide prevention.
“There are a decent amount of veterans that are struggling when transitioning back home,” says Stefan Hespeler, of Operation VEST. “They were a hero and savior of what they did and now they're coming back and transitioning out of the service working 9-5. They feel like there's a disconnect from what they did and what they're doing now. And some people have a hard time doing that, so we engage them with community.”
The event has so far raised about $20,000 for therapy programs to help veterans suffering from the emotional wounds of war.
According to Pentagon data, the number of suicides in the Air Force and Marine Corp dropped by more than 30% in 2021 compared with 2020, and the Navy saw a 10% decline. The Army saw a similar 30% decrease during the first six months of 2022, compared with the same time period in 2021.