KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Flags of Honor ride made its way to Terrace Park Cemetery in Kansas City, raising awareness about veteran suicide along the way. The nonprofit “Ride for 22” honored a local family Tuesday.

Ride for 22 shines a light on the average number of veterans who die by suicide. They provide resources for current and retired military members to get help and assistance for families left behind. 

“The number 22 was the average number of veterans that die by suicide,” founder Doug Knehr said. 

The latest study shows 20 veterans and one active-duty service member take their own lives every day, Knehr said.

The Woods family knows that pain of losing a loved one all too well.

“We miss him every day. He’s in our hearts every day,” mom Cindy Woods said. “Our goal is just that another family won’t have to go though this what we are.”

Cindy and Tommy Woods lost their 21-year-old son Marcus to suicide in 2017. Now, they’ve made it their mission to bring awareness to veteran suicide. 

And so have Doug and Debbie Knehr. 

“We’re here today because of Marcus Woods,” Debbie said.

On behalf of Flags for Honor Escorts, they presented the Woods with a flag that’s traveled close to 40,000 miles across the country. Debbie, herself, carried the flag and Marcus’ picture for 4,000 miles. 

“He goes everywhere on my motorcycle with me,” Debbie said. 

“It makes our hearts happy and to know that he’s still out there because there’s always the saying, ‘If you quit saying the name, then they’re no longer here,'” Cindy said. “So it just makes us feel good that people are still remembering our son.”

Debbie and Doug rolled into Kansas City from Boise, Idaho — stopping at several 22-mile markers, national monuments and even the top of Pike’s Peak.

“You die twice in life, once physically and once the last time your name is ever spoken” Doug said. “So once you pick up the picture and say the name, they never really die.”

From one veteran to the father of another, Tommy holds Marcus’ flag close to his chest. 

“Of course, Marcus is always with us in our heart,” Tommy said. “It was just a nice honor to be given that flag that went to so many different locations around the United States.”

They’ll continue working make a difference here locally, putting an end to the suffering surrounding veteran suicide. 

“The person has to reach out. But to those of you who know a person who served or in the military,” Cindy said, “just take a moment to stop and ask them, and then really listen. Don’t just do it as a, ‘Hey, how you doing?’ Try to listen.”

The Woods family set up a local scholarship in Marcus’ name. They hope it will help educate others when it comes to mental health. If you are interested in the scholarship, contact Woods here

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If you are thinking of hurting or killing yourself:
Call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
Please get help immediately.