RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- The Veteran Suicide Awareness Project's third annual Memorial Day ruck march finished up in Riverside on Monday morning as participants walked nearly 40 miles to shine a light on veteran suicide.
Starting in Covina on Sunday evening, the approximately 40 marchers made the overnight trek to Riverside National Cemetery while wearing 22-pound rucksacks to signify the 22 veterans who commit suicide every day on average.
Event organizer and Air Force veteran Evita De La Cruz lost her husband to suicide in 2013 after he had previously served in the military himself.
"In my rucksack, I have a pair of his boots that still have the dirt on them from Iraq and I have his helmet, and I have other things that equal 22 pounds," she said.
All proceeds from the ruck march will go toward the surviving family members of veterans who have died as a result of suicide.
"It's important to keep having this conversation because it's something that people need to talk about," De La Cruz said. "We need to talk about suicide and we need to honor the veterans who died by suicide and keep their memories alive for their families."