Veteran walks 22 miles to raise awareness of suicide among military, support those in the battle

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - It takes more than near freezing temperatures to stop Local Veteran Keith Poole from helping his fellow service members. Poole is a facilitator with Operation Restored Warrior, a non-profit organization helping military members deal with what they've experienced through relying on their faith.

On Friday, Poole walked 22 miles to raise awareness of suicide among American veterans.

"I'm an old paratrooper, been a long time since I've done 22 miles," Poole said.

Twenty-two miles is a long way, but Poole knows the men and women behind his journey have suffered worse.

"Twenty-two veterans, every day, take their life and actually the number is higher than that," Poole said.

Operation Restored Warrior is a five-day program to help service members find hope.

"The difference is at Operation Restored Warrior, we know that there is a solution," Poole said. "That solution, in our eyes, is introducing them to Jesus."

Operation Restored Warrior's program is called the "Drop Zone."

"A drop zone is a place where you go get after the enemy, right," Poole explained. "You drop in on them, you get to work, you bring the fight to the enemy, that's what we do. When we bring you to the drop zone, it's not church okay, it's not church."

The program is inclusive and open to all faiths.

"If you'll reach out to us, I promise you, we will grab a hold of you and we will not let go until the fight's over," Poole said. "I promise."

But, the program's facilitators hope it ultimately leads you on a walk with Jesus: their answer to hardships they could not face alone.

"The enemy is counting on the fact that it's going to be you and him," Poole said. "That's the way he wants to fight. You bring Jesus into the fight, it changes immediately and we know that, we've seen it, we see it every time."

Operation Restored Warrior is open to all veterans or service members at no cost to them. However, the program's leaders ask that participants be actively seeking help with their personal life.

The five-day drop zones are located in Lake Tahoe and on a ranch in Colorado. You can learn more by visiting their website, operationrestoredwarrior.org, or you can find them on Facebook, www.facebook.com/OperationRestoredWarrior.