Equipped with a small paddle board, an oar and some supplies, Merritt Island's Josh Collins is trying to do something that's never been done before -- become the first person to complete a nonstop, unassisted, manpowered paddle board trip ever around the world.
- Josh Collins attempting to paddleboard for Veteran Voyage 360
- Collins wants to raise awareness about veteran suicide
- On average, 22 vets commit suicide every day in the U.S.
This first leg is a 3,500-mile water voyage from Corpus Christi, Texas to New York City over a 5-month period called Veteran Voyage 360.
The former elite US Army Delta Force and Ranger was put in the hospital, suffering from numerous traumatic brain injuries and PTSD, the result of intense combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"It felt like life was over. I was on a lot of prescription meds, and kind of just staring at the wall," Collins said on stop in Brevard County Friday.
His family helped him find treatments that stopped his reliance on prescription drugs.
His wife, Tonia bought, him a standup paddle board to also help with his therapy.
Collins never looked back and found sanctuary on the water.
But other veterans never find that peace.
"We have friends who killed themselves as recent as four months ago," he said.
That's why he decided to hit the water, to raise awareness for the 22 vets on average who commit suicide each day in the U.S.
Collins' wife gets emotional thinking about his life, and the difference the couple is making when they meet fellow veterans and their families along the route.
"You know that they can get through this, you just have to be there to support them and give them the resources that they need," says Tonia.
"It's not through a pill bottle, not through a bottle of booze, it's through human support," Josh adds.
Collins is holding a rally on Saturday from noon until 2 p.m. at Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach. More information can be found on the Veteran Voyage 360 website.