Marines march in 'silkies' to raise awareness about military suicides

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Monday, July 27, 2015
Attendees of the "22, with 22, for the 22, in silkies" event seen marching in San Diego.
creativeContent-Sarah Hoffman/Facebook

A group of Marines trekked over 13 miles this weekend in nothing but their trademark short shorts known as "silkies" to raise awareness about suicide among veterans.

The event, titled "22, with 22, for the 22" took place on Saturday in San Diego, Calif., with a group of Marines marching 22 kilometers up the coast, carrying 22 kilograms of gear on their back. The number 22 represents the estimated 22 veterans who commit suicide each day, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The event was organized by Irreverent Warriors, founded by Marine-turned-comedian Donny O'Malley, and VETality Corp, another veteran support organization, with the mission of raising awareness of post-traumatic stress and suicide prevention among vets.

"To get veterans and our supporters together, to put weight on our backs and feel nostalgic, to laugh, to drink, to party, and remind us all that our camaraderie and brotherhood will never die," read the event's Facebook page.

The march drew more than a few onlookers, with many people sharing images on social media of the Marines in their silkies making their way up the coast.

O'Malley and the Marines drew praise from across the world for their valiant, barely-clothed endeavor, with many expressing their desire for similar events in other cities.

"I have friends who were [sic] in the Marines and brothers-in-law who were in another branch of the military," wrote one Facebook user. "I think there should be groups like this all over the country to help our men (and women) to support each other with laughter and friendship. Thanks for what you are doing!"

"Thank you for making this an issue for the public eye to see. I was not aware of the 22/day. That is unacceptable," wrote another. "Our veterans deserve better. They're the best at what they do, they deserve the best from America period!"

Veterans comprised approximately 22.2 percent of all suicides reported from 1999-2011, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA also states that PTSD affects between 11-20 percent of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom veterans and 12 percent of Gulf War veterans in a given year.