AP NEWS

Race to Erase 22 seeks to make a difference

December 6, 2018

LAUGHLIN — Race to Erase 22 will host an event Friday-Sunday to help spread awareness about suicide among veterans and active duty military personnel.

“It’s certainly a wound they incurred while serving,” said Debbie Burgos, group founder.

This event will also allow these people to drive off negative feelings — literally. The nonprofit group is composed of people with a deep interest in off-road racing. Members introduce veterans to the hobby and support veterans as they make the transition from military to civilian life.

Whether those negative feelings are anxiety, depression, feeling unneeded or wanting to be part of a team, Race to Erase 22 offers veterans the opportunity to try something new that might help fill the void that comes with reintroduction to civilian life.

Tony Scott of Scott Racing has brought together dozens of veterans to race and his efforts have proven invaluable, Burgos said.

By being a part of a race team — manning check points, working on a vehicle or even driving one — the idea is to provide purpose as well as bring them some excitement.

“If they’re struggling in society it’s considered ‘weak’ to reach out. We’re trying to erase that stigma,” Burgos said.

The group brings its own commemorative wall to events to honor suicide victims who served or were serving when they took their own lives. These men and women aren’t included on other memorials.

“In honor of their sacrifice and military service, we’re giving their families satisfaction that they won’t be forgotten,” Burgos said.

They also provide resource information.

In a 2012 report, the Department of Veterans Affairs stated that roughly 22 veterans were dying by suicide per day from 1999-2010. Stars and Stripes reported in June that the number also included active duty troops, Guard and Reservists. This is the origin of the group’s number 22 in its name.

Later research indicates that the number between 2005-2015 is 20.6, with 16.8 veterans and 3.8 active duty, however.

Still too many lives lost, said Debbie Burgos, group founder.

“It’s a heartbreaking statistic,” she said. “It represents real people.”

On Friday from 1:30 to 8 p.m. in the parking lot of the Tropicana Laughlin there will be booths and information about suicide prevention.

On Saturday and Sunday there will be racing at the Laughlin Events Park from 7 a.m.-5 p.m.

“People can go out and watch racing all day long,” Burgos added.

For details, call 702-400-3609 or visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pg/RacetoErase22/about/?ref=page_internal

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