Juarez looking to help other veterans
It is estimated that 22 veterans commit suicide each day, which is why a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and Texas native formed 22 Hike, an initiative he hopes will provide veterans with a community they can depend on.
Joe Juarez, veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and now the owner of Stars and Stripes Tree Service in Joshua, decided to start 22 Hike so that veterans can have face-to-face interactions with one another, something he said is lacking in today’s social media age.
“I think the problem is that there’s all these Facebook groups and organizations that do stuff [for veterans] on an annual basis or have a hotline, except who’s going to pick up the phone?” Juarez said. “I’m not, I haven’t. The Facebook groups are cool, they’re nice, except it’s not a substitute for actual human face-to-face interaction.”
“I feel like we’re lacking community,” Juarez said.
This is an event where veterans can do what they need to, Juarez said, whether that be to get outdoors, exercise or talk to fellow veterans.
“If you want to talk to the guy or gal next to you while you’re hiking and build a relationship and a friendship then maybe, just maybe, we can bring 22 down,” Juarez said.
22 Hike will take place at Cleburne State Park on the 22nd of each month, starting Monday, July 22. Veterans and their families are invited to meet at the picnic tables at the park at 7:30 a.m., hike the trails and come back together at noon for a cookout. Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6872 will provide refreshments each month.
Juarez said 22 Hike will be a consistent event that veterans will know they can depend on, which is why the hike will take place rain or shine.
“My plan is to build a community,” Juarez said.