Navy veteran swimming through Va. to bring awareness to PTSD

VIRGINIA (WAVY) — A U.S. Navy veteran is swimming his way through Virginia to raise awareness about suicide and PTSD.

Bobby Powell says he served in the Navy for over 20 years as a rescue swimmer.

“As I’ve grown a little grayer, I’ve realized that’s for the younger sailors. What can I do as me now and well that’s trying to save lives to overcome those tough times. That’s the way I’m going to go,” Powell said.

Powell teamed up with the Fitch Foundation to swim more than 200 miles from the Pentagon to Norfolk. He’s on his fourteenth day and will end his journey Saturday at the USS Wisconsin.

“My only little whininess — the aches and pains are nothing compared to the folks who have deep depression,” he said.

Powell says he wanted to raise awareness about suicide because four of his veteran friends have committed suicide in the last few years.

“Suicide, unless it’s a very famous celebrity, usually doesn’t make the news and many don’t realize how prevalent it is out there,” he said.

Powell says he’s been able to tell how many are affected by suicide — not just veterans — by the number of people he’s come across.

“I keep finding more and more people that’s touched them and the fact I’m doing this swim gives them comfort that they’re not alone in the great big world out there,” he said.

Powell and the Fitch Foundation were at Bull Island Brewery in Hampton Friday night raising money for PTSD Awareness Month. He hopes that his swimming — something he enjoys doing — can shed light on suicide and PTSD so others can once again enjoy life, too.

“There are people out there who care and can help you overcome this and become the person you once were: Full of life and joy,” he said.