LAKE NORMAN, NC (WBTV) - Every day in the United States, more than 22 veterans commit suicide from the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Combat Related Stress (CRS). Those numbers wowed Lake Norman resident and former Navy SEAL Shannon Rusch, so he decided to do something about it.
Rusch created the Lake Norman SEAL Swim to raise money and awareness for "Operation Restored Warrior," a program that seeks to help and heal veterans suffering from the effects of combat deployment.
"A very big part of it is that transition from a very structured military life, back to normalcy," said Chris Durant, who volunteers for the LKN SEAL Swim group. Durant said bringing awareness to some of the issues veterans face is a large part of the project, as is the money they raise.
Operation Restored Warrior hosts a 5-day "Drop Zone" retreat where veterans are able to fellowship and talk with others who have been through the same journey. Over the last two years, the SEAL Swim raised enough money to send more than 75 veterans to that program. That number is a statistic Durant is proud of. "It's very humbling," he says, "If we can save only one life, it's worth it."
Friday afternoon, 4 former Navy SEALs and a Vietnam veteran boarded a pontoon boat in swimming gear and prepared to set out on a journey to save lives. Their journey followed a 1.2 mile community swim that ended at the McCrary Creek Access area in Mooresville. Dozens of participants in the swim raised money through donations.
The swimmers will finish the 12 mile trek at the Rusty Rudder in Mooresville. They'll be escorted along the way by numerous public safety agencies that work the lake.
An afterparty will celebrate the event starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Rusty Rudder. For more information, check out www.lknsealswim.org.