LEONARDVILLE (KSNT) — A U.S. army veteran is driving eight thousand miles from Leonardville all the way to the Arctic Circle, and he’s doing it all on a motorcycle. 

James Greer, a combat veteran from Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, is traveling to the Arctic and back in just 22 days. He will average over 300 miles of riding per day before returning to Kansas on July 22, 2022. The number 22 can mean different things to different people, but for Greer, this number bears some weight. 

“That’s one day for every veteran that commits suicide that day,” Greer said. “That’s one approximately every 65 minutes in the United States.”

With this ride, Greer hopes to raise awareness about the severity of veteran suicide. The goal is to simulate harsh environments that soldiers past and present have endured, which is why he chose to travel up north. But there’s something even bigger driving Greer and fellow rider Scott Smith to one of the most isolated, dangerous locations on the map. 

“I want to make a difference,” Greer said. “I want people to know that this is what’s happening to your service members. These are the people that fight for your freedoms — and you know they come back and they’re dealing with these things, they’re struggling. They need people’s help.” 

One of the ways for people to help is to donate to “Mission 22.” The program supports veterans and their families by providing various forms of treatment when they need it. 

Sponsors from all over the country pitched in to make the trip happen. Many of them reached out to Greer wanting to provide different types of gear — like weather-resistant clothing, protective gloves, a custom seat and an indestructible windshield. With where he’s going, he’s going to need all of it. 

Greer plans to be so uncomfortable on his journey, that he won’t be able to recognize the beautiful scenery around him. Greer and Smith plan to wake up each morning, hit the road for 12-14 hours and sleep on the ground at night, before doing it all over again the next day. 

“It’s to symbolize the pain that soldiers and military members feel when they get out of the military, and they don’t see the beauty around them like you and I see every day,” Greer said. “We appreciate it, but we didn’t go through what they went through.” 

Greer was alarmed to learn that many veterans who commit suicide in today’s world were around his age. They’re people he fought in combat with, and this is the only was he knows how to help them. He plans to do what he can to “prevent veteran suicide, one mile at a time.” 

If you want to keep track of Greer’s travels, click here.