+
Health

Afghanistan War veteran walks thousands of miles around Lake Michigan to prevent military suicide

He pledges to keep walking as long as he's needed.

travis snyder, lake michigan, veterans mental health.

Travis Snyder has trekked more than 2,200 miles around Lake Michigan.

True

Veteran suicides are on the rise in America. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the suicide rate increased by nearly 36% from 2001 to 2019. Since the onset of the "war on terror" in 2001, more than 30,000 active duty personnel have died by suicide—that’s four times greater than the number killed in action.


Marine veteran Travis Snyder was enlisted in the military for six years and served in Afghanistan as a corporal from October 2017 to April 2018 and is no stranger to the pain of veteran suicide. Snyder lost a friend and fellow veteran to it in 2019.

He’s also had his own mental health struggles.

After leaving the military and losing a friend, he discovered his new purpose in life, to help other veterans dealing with mental health issues.

“Up until that point in my unit, we had lost others before my time of service, but that was my first time experiencing loss up close. Once we lost Jeff I would say I just felt led to do something and walking and hiking was the best thing I knew how to do,” Snyder told WGVU News.

So Snyder decided to do something dramatic. In 2019, he walked 810 miles of shoreline around Lake Michigan in 42 days to raise awareness for mental health resources and veteran suicide prevention. In 2020, he walked 210 miles of shoreline and in 2021, another 200. This year, Snyder had his longest walk of 900 miles around the lake.

Snyder uses the attention he gets from his monumental walks to raise money for Mission 22, a nonprofit that helps veterans with mental health treatment and support.

On all four of Snyder’s walks, he’s been impressed with the kindness of those he’s encountered around the lake.

“The first year I was going to hike, I didn’t tell too many folks what I was doing. I was merely going to commemorate our comrade we lost to suicide and hoped to reach a few people along the way. I had all of my camping gear and was ready to rough it wherever I could,” he told Upworthy.

“However, with help from Facebook, word of mouth, and other platforms, thousands of people have gathered around each venture, with a desire to contribute one way or another; whether it be a meal, a roof, a bed, or just a word of encouragement. I’m very grateful when I share that after four walks and 2240 total miles, I have yet to resort to camping out somewhere for a night. I have always had a bed, or place to stay whether it be a home or hotel,” he continued.

Snyder’s favorite spot on his heroic walks is Fayette Historic State Park in Garden, Michigan.

“At one point it was a bustling community that manufactured iron in the late 19th century, but was abandoned and is now basically a ghost town,” he told Upworthy. “However, the surrounding cliff faces, clear waters, and alluring scenery make it a must. When I went, there was no one around so it really added to the eerie yet beautiful vibe!”

Snyder wouldn’t be able to raise money without Meta tools. He adds a donate button to his Facebook posts which allows his followers to support and donate to the Mission 22 organization. Facebook is the best tool he has for keeping his followers up to date on his walks.

"Thanks to Facebook and the tools and resources that Facebook provides, I was able to set a small stage, and build a small following, a community of folks that want to tie into this cause and contribute in their own way," Travis has shared.

Facebook also allows people to join him on his journeys.

“I do my best to be consistent and to the point with my posts, so that followers are able to both stay interested and engaged. But also so that they don’t miss anything that I’m sharing; whether that be updates on the walk itself or new information in the world of veteran mental health,” he told Upworthy.

Many of Snyder’s followers on social media are veterans of wars including Desert Storm, Afghanistan and Vietnam.

Snyder hopes his walks will help inspire a dialog about mental health and encourage civilians and vets to have discussions about this challenging topic.

via TravisHikesAroundLakeMI/Facebook

“I hope that the stigma behind the term ‘PTSD’ doesn’t prevent civilians from interacting or being willing to have a conversation with a veteran,” he told Upworthy. “Veterans who experience these mental health injuries are not weak for speaking up, but rather it’s the act of opening up and sharing these experiences that are saving lives, by encouraging more and more to speak up as well.”

He also hopes people learn that PTSD isn’t the only mental health struggle veterans face.

“Mental health challenges come in all forms, and levels of intensity,” he told Upworthy. “Some that experience challenges are working through serious obstacles such as suicidal tendencies, schizophrenia and depression. But some are merely experiencing anxiety, trouble sleeping and stress.”

Snyder is looking to walk even further in 2023 with either a 1,000-mile trek around Lake Michigan or, possibly, a journey around Lake Superior, which would take as long as four months.

“Trust me, the desire is there, and as long as we keep losing our loved ones to suicide,” he told Upworthy, “the calling and the need will continue to be there as well."

Science

Sustainably good news: Recycling is getting better and this family is showing us how

What if instead of focusing on what isn’t working, we looked at these stories as an invitation to do better?

Via Ridwell

Ryan Metzger and son Owen

There is no shortage of dire news about the state of modern recycling. Most recently, this NPR article shared the jaw-dropping statistic that about 5% of all plastics produced get recycled, meaning the rest of it ends up in landfills. While the underlying concerns here are sound, I worry that the public narrative around recycling has gotten so pessimistic that it will make people give up on it entirely instead of seeing the opportunities to improve it. What if instead of focusing on what isn’t working, we looked at these news stories as an invitation to do better?

Keep ReadingShow less
The Prince Charles Cinema/Youtube

Brendan Fraser dressed as Rick O'Connell.

Brendan Fraser might be making the greatest career comeback ever, racking up accolades and award nominations for his dramatic, transformative role in “The Whale." But the OG Fraser fans (the ones who watch “Doom Patrol” solely to hear his voice and proudly pronounce his last name as Fray-zure, for this is the proper pronunciation) have known of his remarkable talent since the 90s, when he embodied the ultimate charming, dashing—and slightly goofball—Hollywood action lead.

Let us not forget his arguably most well known and beloved 90s character—Rick O’Connell from the “Mummy” franchise. Between his quippy one-liners, Indiana Jones-like adventuring skills and fabulous hair, what’s not to like?

During a double feature of “The Mummy” and “The Mummy Returns” in London, moviegoers got the ultimate surprise when who should walk in but Brendan Fraser himself, completely decked out in Rick O’Connell attire. The brown leather jacket. The scarf. Everything.

Keep ReadingShow less

Little boy and his mom get surprised with tickets to Eagles game.

In today's world, it's easy to get caught up in all the negative news we're exposed to, but in reality, most good deeds are done away from a camera—just one person helping another without desire for fanfare. And for mom Bryanne McBride and her young son, Mason, that's exactly what they were doing when they got the surprise of a lifetime.

Bryanne was approached by a man in a parking lot asking for a dollar to catch the bus. The entire time, the mom scrounged around in her purse looking for spare change and revealed she felt bad because she thought she had some. Bryanne's desire to help was a simple act of kindness to another human in need without the expectation of something in return.

During the time it took for the unsuspecting mother to dig for loose change, the "stranded" stranger, Zach, introduced himself and asked if the duo were from Philly. Once they said they were from the area, he then inquired if they were Eagles fans...the football team, not the birds. "You ever been to an Eagles game?" Zach asked.

Keep ReadingShow less

Women are looking for love at Home Depot.

Even though people have endless options to find love these days, whether in real life or online, finding the perfect person still isn’t easy. In fact, according to Pew Research, 55% of women believe dating is harder today than it was 10 years ago. So it’s understandable that some are considering ditching the apps to meet people in real life.

Studies show that for people looking for a serious relationship, real life may be the better option.

According to Newsweek, a study by Illinois State University sociology professor Susan Sprecher found that young people who first met face to face were 25% more likely to report feelings of closeness than those who initially met online. Aditi Paul, a communications professor at Pace University in New York, found that people who first met in real life lasted four times longer than those who met online.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Two couples move in together with their kids to create one big, loving 'polyfamory'

They are using their unique family arrangement to help people better understand polyamory.

The Hartless and Rodgers families post together


Polyamory, a lifestyle where people have multiple romantic or sexual partners, is more prevalent in America than most people think. According to a study published in Frontiers in Psychology, one in nine Americans have been in a polyamorous relationship, and one in six say they would like to try one.

However popular the idea is, polyamory is misunderstood by a large swath of the public and is often seen as deviant. However, those who practice it view polyamory as a healthy lifestyle with several benefits.

Taya Hartless, 28, and Alysia Rogers, 34, along with their husbands Sean, 46, and Tyler, 35, are in a polyamorous relationship and have no problem sharing their lifestyle with the public on social media. Even though they risk stigmatization for being open about their non-traditional relationships, they are sharing it with the world to make it a safer place for “poly” folks like themselves.

Keep ReadingShow less
Education

Woman without an internal monologue explains what it's like inside her head

“She's broken my mind. I don't even understand what I'm not understanding."

PA Struggles/Youtube

An estimated 50-70% of the population doesn't have an internal monologue.

The notion of living without an internal monologue is a fairly new one. Until psychologist Russell Hurlburt’s studies started coming out in the late 90s, it was widely accepted that everyone had a little voice narrating in their head. Now Hurlburt, who has been studying people's "inner experience" for 40 years, estimates that only 30-50% of the population frequently think this way.

So what about the other 50-70%? What exactly goes on inside their heads from day to day?

In a video interview originally posted in 2020, a woman named Kirsten Carlson gave some insight into this question, sharing how not having an inner dialogue affected her reading and writing, her interactions with others and how she navigates mental challenges like anxiety and depression. It was eye-opening and mind-blowing.
Keep ReadingShow less
Community

Native Siberian shares what daily life entails in the coldest village on Earth

See how the people of Yakutia, Siberia take showers, do laundry, go to school and more in minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit.

A man in the Yakutia region of Siberia takes an ice bath in minus 50 degrees Celsius.

For most of us, waking up to a temperature of minus 50 degrees would spell catastrophe. Normal life would come to a screeching halt, we'd be scrambling to deal with frozen pipes and power outages, school and work would be canceled and weather warnings would tell us not to venture outside due to frostbite risk.

But in the Yakutia region of Siberia, that's just an average winter day where life goes on as usual.

When you live in the coldest inhabited area on Earth, your entire life is arranged around dealing with ridiculously cold temperatures. Villages don't have running water because freezing pipes wouldn't allow for water treatment. Kids go to school unless the temp drops below minus 55 degrees Celsius (which is then considered dangerous). Showering involves spending hours stoking a fire in the bathhouse to create a steamy, warm room.

Native Siberian Kiun B. has created a series of documentary short films detailing what daily life is like in Yakutia's frigid winters. She was born and raised in Yakutsk, Siberia, widely recognized as the coldest city on Earth, where average winter temperatures hover around minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit. As seen in her videos, smaller villages in the Yakutia region regularly dip down into the negative 50s, with the lowest recorded temp in the Yakut village of Oymayakon reaching a mindblowing minus 96 degrees Fahrenheit.

The popularity of Kiun's YouTube channel demonstrates how curious people are about life in such harsh conditions, as her videos have been viewed by tens of millions of people in the past year alone.

Check out this video detailing a day in the life of a family in a Yakutia village.

Can you imagine going out to use an outhouse in minus 40 degrees? Oof.

Another of Kiun's videos goes into more detail about how people shower and do laundry in the region. You might assume they wouldn't line-dry their laundry outdoors, but they do.

Watch:

What do people wear to protect themselves from the negative temperatures? Frostbite is a real risk, so it's important to have the right kinds of clothing and outdoor gear to stay safe and relatively comfortable.

Kiun shared some frigid fashion norms from Yakutsk, which include traditional fur hats and boots as well as lots of layers and down jackets.

However, there are some Yakut folks who see the cold as something to embrace. For instance, this man takes an ice bath out in the elements as a morning ritual. It's something he has worked up to—definitely not something to try on your own during a cold snap—but it still has to be painful.

(Seriously, please don't try this at home.)

The way humans have learned to adapt to drastically different environments, from the sweltering tropics to the Arctic tundra, is incredible, and it's fascinating to get a close-up look at how people make life work in those extremes. Thank you, Kiun B., for giving us a glimpse of what it's like to experience life in the dead of winter in the world's coldest inhabited places.