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Team of veterans to race across Atlantic Ocean to bring awareness to mental health

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What if there was a way to stop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder before it even started? Researchers are working to make that happen, and they are getting a little bit of help from veterans in an unexpected way.

It may seem strange to see a row boat in the middle of a college campus. But even more unusual is that in a few weeks the boat will be in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean with four veterans onboard.

“We'd like to compare ourselves to the Jamaican bobsled team,” says Alex Evans, the skipper on the team.

Despite never rowing in an ocean before, Evans says he's confident he and his team, Fight Oar Die, can be the first-ever all-American military veteran ocean rowing team to race across the Atlantic Ocean. Their mission? To raise awareness about mental health for veterans.

Mental health is something everyone on this team has struggled with.

“Anxiety, panic, insomnia were three of my biggest, biggest issues,” Evans says.

The men hope this journey can send a message to other veterans.

“You can do anything you want,” Evans says of the message the team hopes to send. “You're not damaged; you're not hurt. You're, likely, better than everybody else. So, we wanted to show them they still had that.”

The rowing conditions will be extreme, and researchers will observe to see how they react.

Dr. Jacob Hyde is a veteran and leads the military psychology program at the University of Denver. His team will be working with the men before and during their journey, and use that information to help veterans, astronauts and others placed in extreme environments.

“I think we're all realizing that the military, the military community, is pretty much in dire need of some attention here,” Evans says. “And I think we're about to get it.”

Learn more about Fight Oar Die and their mission here.