Written By: Paulette Fryar
My name is Paulette Fryar and I am a Coast Guard Spouse to my husband, Troy, who is in his 31st year of active duty service. We have 4 college age sons, with one entering the Air Force this fall. We are currently stationed at Scott Air Force Base. In May, I was selected as the 2020 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year. The very next day, my cousin David, a Marine Corps Veteran, lost his battle to PTSD and took his life. It was such a mixed bag of emotions-excited to be chosen to represent a group of some of the most amazing people I know, and devastated with the loss to our family.
I knew I wanted to do something to honor David’s life, and when we found out that his Celebration of Life service was to be held on his Birthday, (virtually due to Covid), and that was 22 days before Suicide Prevention Week in September, I knew we needed to start then. 22 is a significant number because on average, that is how many veterans we lose to suicide every day. That is not acceptable.
Myself, along with the other 5 Branch winners from the Military Spouse of the Year program, decided to aim for a loft goal of one million miles and launched our project-and started a Facebook group to document it. The Million Mile Project. We are seeking to encourage people to walk, swim, run, bike, hike-whatever you want to do to get out and MOVE for Military and Veteran PTSD Awareness and Prevention.
We have been overwhelmed at the amount of participation we have seen! We have almost 7400 people to date on our group. We have seen so many people post to tell the stories of loved ones they have lost. We have seen so many people dedicate their miles to people they want to honor and remember.
We have seen people share information with phone numbers and websites of groups that provide HELP for those that may be struggling. We have seen peopleshare their own personal stories and thre stories of those in their lives also. It’s been amazing!
You can find us on Facebook at THE MILLION MILE PROJECT. I would invite you to please join us and share our group. Our project goes until September 5th for our 22 days right now, but the group will not be ending. We how to make this an annual project and grow it bigger next year as well. We have a file in the group where we hope you will document your miles to help us reach a million! There is also a file with a printable “running bib” to use in photos for dedications as well. We ask that you hashtag #AFIMSOYMMP
There is also information in the files of resources for groups and organizations that provide help and counseling for anyone that may need it. Please reach out!