VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Seven months after completing a 222-mile walk from Camp Lejeune, NC to Virginia Beach, Marine Corps veteran Shane Stephens is returning to the beach.
He began this year’s walk on June 28, starting from Camp Lejeune again, and is making the long journey on foot. Unlike last year, however, this time his journey ends at the YMCA JT’s Camp Grom.
Camp Grom is a day retreat developed especially for wounded veterans and their families, the families of fallen war heroes and children and adults with differing abilities. Stephens chose Camp Grom because their mission closely aligns with that of END 22, a project started by beach resident, Bill “Chico” Ciccone after his son, SGT James Ciccone took his own life following a combat deployment in Iraq.
On average, 22 veterans and active duty personnel take their own life every day. That number is even more staggering when you consider the fact that veterans make up just 7 percent of the population, but account for 20 percent of all suicides in this country, according to the group.
Mindful of the fact that the suicide rate among first responders is also rising, the Virginia Beach Fire Department is once again answering the call for support from END 22.
Stephens is scheduled to arrive at Camp Grom, located at 1181 Prosperity Road, sometime between 1 and 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 7th. He will have carried the END 22 flag the entire way, along with the memorial “dog tags” of fallen veterans, and will complete the final leg of his journey with a walk around the lake at Camp Grom.