A wounded war veteran from Racine County is traveling the country by motorcycle to bring attention to a cause close to his heart.
Nick Loomis is bringing awareness to the veteran suicide rate by riding through 22 states in 22 days.
He said the number is significant since around 22 veterans take their own lives every day. Loomis started his journey from his home in Elmwood Park in early July.
We talked with him after he finished talking with veterans in North Carolina Tuesday.
"If we bring the public involved and surround these guys and make sure that they have a place in their societies all over this country that that message can change things in a big way," said Loomis.
Nick has a purple heart.
"I was hit by a mortar in Iraq in 2005. It messed me up pretty bad for a very long time," said Loomis.
Loomis said his leg was practically paralyzed. He had to learn how to walk again and he dealt with PTSD, among other challenges.
"The one thing that I didn't overcome was getting back into this environment with veterans again and that was a portion that I was kind of afraid of I think for awhile," said Loomis.
Loomis is spending time with veterans on his cross-country journey and sharing experiences. He said he has lost more friends to suicide out of the military than he did in combat serving overseas.
"It's been very difficult on this trip kind of facing those demons again and talking to people that bring me back to that place," said Loomis.
The veteran started a business last year called CM Skullies.
"It kind of brought me back out of my shell," said Loomis.
It helped give him confidence in more ways than one. Learn more about CM Skullies here.
"We had created a hat that allows you to wear your glasses through the hat because I had problems with equilibrium and falling over," said Loomis.
This allowed Loomis to get back on his bike. The veteran's wife Abrianna Loomis is following behind in their Tahoe. She is supporting her husband on his journey while helping others in her situation.
"There's other wives and there's other mom's and there's other family members that are dealing with the struggles of their loved ones like I have with Nick and so I want to be there for them," said Abrianna.
The Loomis's have been on the road since July 6. They have been sleeping in their SUV and camping most nights.
Loomis is trying to raise $22,000 for 22Kill, a group that offers programs for veterans battling depression.
"We literally set up a table and we take donations with a donation container," said Loomis.
The Racine County man said the trip has been physically and emotionally exhausting, but his connections he's made along the way is worth it.
"I would say that the awareness, people that care, how much people care," said Nick Loomis.
Loomis and his wife have five more states to go. Loomis said he's most looking forward to getting back to his three children.
For more on Loomis's story and how to donate visit the 22 states in ss days GoFundMe page.