Meet Michigan’s 2022 Veteran of the Year - Travis Snyder
He said life after active duty presents a new set of challenges - challenges he’s raised $15,000 for.
LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Imagine walking around lake Michigan not once, but two separate times.
When Travis Snyder started taking steps toward talking about mental health, it turned into something much bigger.
“The first year I did it, it was more or less to commemorate my buddy,” said Snyder.
Snyder’s journey has included the Marine Corps, Afghanistan, and walking more than 2,000 miles around the mitten. On top of walking around Lake Michigan twice, he’s also hiked from Holland to Mackinaw City once and from Manistee to Mackinaw City once.
He recalled that “The biggest challenge coming home, I still wanted to be of use to my community, and to those around me as well.”
He said life after active duty presents a new set of challenges - challenges he’s raised $15,000 for through his hikes. He hikes because he knows he’s not alone in facing mental health troubles.
“We lost one of our own to suicide about a year after we returned home from Afghanistan,” said Snyder. “He was a great marine, great brother, took care of his own Marines, and did his job well.”
Snyder’s first lap around Lake Michigan was to commemorate Sergeant Geoffrey Hughes.
Sergeant Hughes was Snyder’s close friend, who lost his life to suicide after returning home. Snyder’s hike to commemorate Sergeant Hughes turned into years of mental health advocacy.
He said, “No matter who you are, where you’ve been through, where you served, to what extent you serve, your story matters. Your life matters, your purpose matters.”
People connected with Snyder’s story and wanted to help the cause in any way they could. He said he wants everyone to feel comfortable getting help, and that opening up has led him to meet lots of great people.
“To be able to open up, and just share with other people and relate, so we can all find our own healing. It’s a huge deal,” he said. “I think we’re very blessed in society and in the veteran community to be able to talk about these things. I hope we can continue to talk about these things.”
The 2022 National Veteran Suicide Prevention report shows veteran suicide rates are down. Snyder said just talking about your feelings can go a long way in prevention.
Confidential support is available 24 hours a day, every day. If you or anyone you know is a veteran struggling with mental health you can call 988 and press 1 to connect with the Veterans Crisis Line, text 838255 or chat online on the official website here.
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