Three former Navy SEALs swam more than 12 miles Friday across Lake Norman to raise awareness about a program that helps veterans deal with the psychological impacts of war.
"We've got 22 veterans a day -- almost one an hour -- killing themselves," said John Guandolo, executive director of Operation Restored Warrior in Colorado.
Guandolo said that's more deaths by suicide each day than the United States is losing in combat right now.
He is looking to bring that number down by helping veterans deal with traumatic events that happened in combat and lead to post-traumatic stress disorder.
"What we found is that it's not the event itself. It's that whatever happened there hits a wound that already existed in them from their childhood or some other point in their life," Guandolo said.
For the last several weeks, former Navy SEALs Shannon Rush and Rich Graham have been working to put together the swim to will raise awareness to the problem and the work that Operation Restored Warrior does.
"Their success rate with what they're doing out there in Colorado is extremely high," Graham said.
ORW has helped hundreds of vets over the last four years through a five-day program called Operation Drop Zone. Friday, to help raise awareness and the money needed to allow vets to go through the program free of charge, Rush, Graham and another former SEAL, Troy Pusateri, took off from Queens Landing and swam 12.2 miles to the Rusty Rudder on Lake Norman.
"That's just what it worked out to from here to my favorite place on the lake," said Rush.
In just the last month their efforts have raised more than $12,000.