By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For veterans, Memorial Day is a time to reflect on their fallen comrades in arms.

Military members cope with the memory of friends lost overseas — and the battles they face at home.

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Fighting to not break down at the thought of comrades who never made it home is the plight of many veterans on Memorial Day.

“Manny Hernando, the soldier we lost overseas. He was killed 14 days after I was injured,” said combat veteran Mike Mills.

For Mike Mills and many other combat veterans it’s the scars from war that others can’t see that make Memorial Day tough to handle.

“Physically I’m doing good, mentally it’s tough, but I’m doing pretty good,” Mills said.

Mills is part of “From 23 to Zero,” an organization committed to remembering the 23 veterans who commit suicide each day.

He says this ruck march helps veterans celebrate military personnel who took their own life.

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“They are still a fallen brother or sister. They are still a comrade and will always be one,” Mills said.

“I’ve had days where I get down,” said Anthony Ketchmark.

For Anthony Ketchmark, Memorial Day sparks memories of…

“My friend specialist Cesar Grandos. He was just this big teddy bear that was like everybody’s big brother, always looking out for us,” Ketchmark said.

Ketchmark believes all Americans should embrace their family, friends and neighbors who served, and make sure they are given time to celebrate and grieve the lives of the friends they miss daily.

“If you see a vet talk to them and just see if they need to talk. Maybe they’ve lost somebody and just they need somebody to talk to because they are not having a good day,” Ketchmark said.

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You can learn more about Operation: 23 to Zero and the crisis resources it provides here.

Reg Chapman