FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. — National data shows more than 6,000 veterans die by suicide each year. Nearly four in 10 are older than 55.
Now a group of veterans from Amelia Island are planning to row across the Atlantic to raise awareness for their comrades in crisis.
"Myself and three other veterans from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines in December 2021, we are going to row across the Atlantic Ocean," said SSgt Paul Lore (ret.), who served in the U.S. Marine Corps.
The rower is named 'Courageous', and the four veterans will be taking her across the Atlantic Ocean. It's expected to take them 50 days to row 3,000 miles.
The four veterans have already been preparing to set sail.
"All four of us rowers are on the indoor rower at least four to five days a week in conjunction with our CrossFit training," Lore said. "We also have to pay attention to nutrition and the mental aspects of training."
The group launched off the Dee Dee Bartells Boat Ramp Sunday morning to practice for the big mission. A crowd of several dozen supporters watched the first test run.
"We're going to have dehydrated food," Lore said. "We're going to make our own water on board."
K9s for Warriors is one of the groups the veterans will raise money for. They've gotten more than $170,000 so far and would like to raise $500,000.
"It really becomes an endurance event. You're exposed to the elements during the day. As you can see, there's no cover on the boat. Certainly weather is an issue when you get in the rough seas," said SCPO Hupp Huppmann (ret.), who served with the U.S Navy.
"We'll be doing almost 1.5 million strokes just to get across the ocean," Lore said. "We'll be rowing two hours on, two hours off, two hours on, two hours off until we get to the other side."
The veterans who formed the group Foar From Home say it's all worth it to help our nation's heroes.
"Veteran suicide, it's a serious problem in the United States," Foar said. "I hope our row brings really national attention to this problem."
The veterans will put oar to water leaving from the Canary Islands on December 12, 2021 and rowing for about a month and a half until they end up in Antigua.