Summit for Soldiers: Local veteran honors soldiers who have taken their own lives (UPDATE)

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UPDATE: June 20 9 p.m.

Mike Fairman completed his quest to climb Mt. Everest with 28 names of personal friends and former veterans who have committed suicide.

He informed 10TV he completed the climb May 19.

Original Story

It’s human nature to want to help.

And, whereas most people have one reason to do so, Mike Fairman has 8,000.

On a flag that he carries with him are 28 names of personal friends and former veterans who have committed suicide. The Navy veteran and co-founder of Summit For Soldiers, a non-profit that works with veterans with mental illness and outdoor adventure, says the statistics of veteran suicides are numbing.

“Over 22 veterans a day that we lose every 60-to-80 minutes,” he said. “Over 8,000 veterans a year that we lose.”

He, too, says he has dealt with suicidal darkness. But now he is finding the light with Summit For Soldiers, while attempting to reach new peaks from Aconcagua in South America to Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Next week he sets his sights on Mount Everest.

“As a climber, who wouldn’t want to go to Everest,” he said.

It’s not his first trip. He traveled to Everest in 2014 and he was there when an avalanche killed 16 people. He never reached the top.

He realizes to go again sounds crazy. But, he says the two-month voyage to kiss the sky at the world’s highest point is about leaving craziness to find sanity.

“This is my therapy, too,” he said. “This is my ability to get out there and have a reason to live.”

And he’s not alone. The memories of 28 personal friends that are marked on his flag will walk beside him.

“Those names…I’m just a guy walking up a hill,” Fairman said. “Those names are who need to stand at the top.”

More than an uphill climb – it’s a need to help, while knowing the names he carries with him helps him, too.

Fairman says all of the $23,000 raised to travel and climb Mt. Everest was raised separately and is not money from the Summit For Soldiers mission. If you would like to learn more about the organization, you can visit www.summitforsoldiers.org.