PSEG Long Island Employee-Military Veterans Kayak Across the Long Island Sound to Shine a Light on PTSD and Veteran Suicide
A group of PSEG Long Island employees who are military veterans recently took to the water to raise awareness of mental health issues afflicting many veterans. The group was among 22 veterans participating in the fifth “22 PTSD Awareness Challenge” (22PAC) event, an arduous, 22-mile kayaking trip from Bridgeport, Connecticut to Port Jefferson to help shine a light on veteran PTSD and end veteran suicide.
In teams of two, the 22 veterans operated pedal-powered kayaks in a physically demanding, five-hour cross-Sound journey. The hot sun, humidity and headwinds made the trip that much more difficult.
The number 22 is significant for this event because it is the estimated number of military veterans who take their own lives each day.
Devin McLaughlin of East Moriches, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, participated for the second time this year. “Some people I met in the service are no longer with us because they lost their battles with depression,” he said. “In a small way, doing this ride helps me think of them and lets me know I’m doing my part for them and for other veterans facing challenges.”
Michael Probst and Tom Leuschner, both U.S. Army veterans, are co-workers and Holbrook residents who supported the cause this year.
“I did the 22 PAC for my brothers and sisters in the armed forces and to support a great cause,” said Probst. “I hope this event helped to bring awareness to this issue because 22 veterans a day taking their own lives is completely unacceptable and preventable.”
“I was so proud to be a part of this great cause,” said Leuschner. “This is the least I could do for our veterans who have done so much for us.”
Tom Sketch of Seaford, a U.S. Navy veteran, was one of the kayakers. “It’s a great event to bring awareness to the challenges veterans face after their service is completed,” he said. “It was a little more difficult than I thought it would be, but we had beautiful weather and I am glad I was able to complete it.”
Matt Testagrose of Shoreham, a U.S. Army veteran, participated in the event. “It was great to see my fellow veterans and co-workers come together to show support for PTSD awareness,” he said.
Leo Tolson, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran from Center Moriches, said, “The trip was exhausting, but I wanted to do something to help raise awareness of how many veterans need help.”