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'I will not quit' | Oak Ridge veteran runs 5k in honor of those he's lost

Barry Floyd served in the Navy for 24 years, mainly taking care of the Marine Corps. He's running a 5K virtually this year to raise awareness about PTSD and suicide.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — For Barry Floyd, talking about mental health struggles and resources is critical. The Oak Ridge veteran, like many of his colleagues, struggles with PTSD.

"You may look at a veteran and go, 'Oh, they're fine,'" he said. "Well, they may not be fine."

He lost two of his sailors — Mike Johnson and Allan Espiritu — in combat. He lost a third to suicide just two years ago.

"When I found out [Daniel Buck] lost his battle to his demons, it really crushed me because there's no bandage for PTSD," Floyd said. "Not all wounds are visible."

A 2019 U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs report showed about 16-18 veterans die by suicide every day. Barry Floyd is determined to help change that.

Credit: WBIR
Barry Floyd carried an American flag on Saturday in honor of three sailors.

"For me, I will not quit. I will not become a statistic," he said. "That's why I'm doing this [5K run] in memory of all three of them."

On Saturday, Floyd participated virtually in the annual Wounded Warrior Project's Carry Forward 5K. He ran laps around Alvin K. Bissell Park in Oak Ridge, carrying a flag proudly the entire way.

"This year, it's extra, extra hard for me to do this," he said. "[I'm] just showing pride. Showing pride and carrying the flag for my three sailors."

Floyd raised more than $1,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project, which he said helps connect veterans and their caregivers with a variety of resources.

"Getting the awareness down to that grassroot level is what's going to bring more awareness to suicide and also PTSD," he said. "[This 5K is] a fundraiser to help other wounded warriors, caregivers, and personnel get adaptive housing, and different pieces that they are a part of and providing mental health services."

Anyone can virtually participate in the Wounded Warrior Project Carry Forward 5K at their own convivence this year. 

If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health, there are resources to help.