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Empty boots send powerful message about the prevalence of veteran suicide

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For the second year, the Capitol's steps will display 115 sets of combat boots – symbolizing the estimated number of veterans and military service members lost to suicide every five days.

Volunteers for Boots for the 23 are placing 23 sets of boots on the steps of the Minnesota Capitol building every day from April 4-8.

The event is hosted by Operation: 23 to Zero, a non-profit that provides a network for military veterans. They strive to bring awareness to vet-related issues, such as PTSD, military sexual trauma, and suicide.

"This event is an awareness campaign for not only the general public to raise awareness about the epidemic, but also to let military and veterans know that there is a brotherhood and sisterhood still available outside of the military," Operation: 23 to Zero told BringMeTheNews.

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The Facebook event invites families who have lost a service member to suicide to place a name and photo on a pair of boots to memorialize their loved one.

The last set of boots will be set up by 8 am Friday morning, Operation: 23 to Zero told BringMeTheNews.

They also told BringMeTheNews that boots are collected through donations, and will be saved for next year's event. Excess boots are donated to homeless veterans through MACV.

Prevalence of suicide among America's troops

It was a 2012 Department of Veterans Affairs study that estimated 22 veterans take their lives every single day.

Operation: 23 to Zero's website says the rate is 22 veterans and one active-duty military service member per day, on average. That's over 8,000 men and women a year.

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