Dozens take the ‘Plunge’ in the Shoals to promote veteran awareness

FLORENCE, Ala. – It just happened to be the coldest day of the winter thus far as some brave souls plunged into the Tennessee River in Florence. It’s the second year for “Plunge into the New Year” and organizers have a heartfelt message behind it.

When temperatures drop below freezing it’s pretty uncommon to see a man walking on the beach at McFarland Park in a tank top, or people even wearing shorts for that matter. But they came in droves Monday afternoon to bring attention to mental health issues among war veterans.

Josh and Melissa Miles

“It’s unacceptable and its something I don’t know how to fix, but I know that we have to talk about it and we have got to let people know,” stated Josh Miles.

Miles and his wife Melissa organized the plunge last year after a fellow Marine lost a struggle to mental disease. According to Miles, an average of 22 veterans commit suicide daily.

“He felt he couldn’t ask for help,” Josh Miles explained. “He is the one that did this right before that year that he passed away, and we figured we just carry it on.”

After a quick countdown, dozens plunged into the Tennessee River. By the way, the water temperature is around 48-degrees.

“Feels good now! (Does it really?) It doesn’t feel bad. I’m not as cold now as I was before I went in,” said Miles as he walked back to the beach.

Close to 50 people participated in the second annual event on Monday. Last year, the inaugural plunge had 20-participants.