MILWAUKEE -- Hundreds of runners crossed the finish line Saturday morning, April 6 at the Milwaukee Marathon downtown -- but one veteran was running for soldiers who are fighting a battle of their own.
"Every mile, I got some motivation to run towards," said Ruben Velez, a combat veteran who's never ran a marathon in his life. On Saturday, he ran his first -- with an extra 22 pounds strapped on his chest.
"I have 22 pounds exactly on this flat jacket," explained Velez. "When we're out there in war, we're running. We got 60 to 80 pounds, so this is nothing."
Those 22 pounds represent the average number of veterans who commit suicide every day -- something that hits close to home for Velez.
"The main reason I'm running this is for the veterans who suffer in silence," said Velez.
Velez was cramping up during the marathon, and tried to push through the pain in his Achilles tendon. While he only finished half the race, he still crossed the finish line with the Marine Corps flag waving proudly above his head. His goal had already been accomplished.
"Very emotional," said Velez. "This means a lot to me."
Velez said all he wanted to do was raise money and awareness for veterans suffering from PTSD. He's hoping to let his military family know they're not alone.
"I know it's hard, I know there's so many of you that suffer in silence," said Velez. "Just keep fighting."
If you're interested in donating to the Wounded Warriers project, click HERE.