TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. (KABC) -- It's an empty desert now, but on Saturday a ranch in Twentynine Palms will be the center for a haunted hayride winding through a maze. And it's also a way to help men and women who have served in the military.
"Just trying to give the community, active duty as well as veterans a place to come out on Halloween, have a little bit of fun and get out for a little bit," said Ainsley Clift of Irreverent Warriors Palm Springs.
The mission is much larger than Halloween fun. It wants to raise awareness of the devastating trend of veteran suicide.
"Twenty-two veteran lives a day are lost to suicide," said Corey Hall with Irreverent Warriors Palm Springs.
The event is being put together by Irreverent Warriors, an organization for veterans to reach out, network and interact with those dealing with mental health issues.
"The one thing they miss the most is the people they served with. When they get out that's one of the hardest things they have to cope with - not talking to these guys or girls that they served with," said Hall.
The organization also puts together a hike. As part of that, veterans will walk 22 kilometers, carrying a 22 kilogram pack to represent 22 vets who die by suicide every day.
Organizers say the pandemic has been especially difficult for these men and women.
"Our mission is bringing veterans out of isolation while the government is trying to tell us isolate. That's not helping anyone's case. Suicide rates have spiked since coronavirus happened and everything has been shut down," said Hall.
"And it kind of gives them the motivation, kind of gives them a sense of purpose," said Clift.
Irreverent Warriors says the camaraderie of putting these events on helps bring veterans together, uniting them for a better future.