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Retired US Marine Staff Sgt. Tim Chambers, 45, stood on a Washington D.C. median for a full 24 hours on Sunday as a way to bring awareness to veteran suicide. 

Chambers began this tradition back in 2002, saluting motorcyclists for up to five hours at a time during the annual Rolling Thunder protest and gathering dedicated to military service members abandoned by the government after the Vietnam war, reported WJLA.

The Memorial Day motorcycle event, now called Rolling to Remember, was set to highlight the issue of veteran suicide for the first time this year. Because of coronavirus, the ride was cancelled in Washington D.C., but more than 100 motorcyclists still showed up to watch Chambers, who held a salute for 22 minutes during the first hour, symbolizing each American veteran who takes their own life each day. For each subsequent hour, he held the salute for one less minute until the number of symbolic minutes left totalled to zero. Chambers held this position without food, water, or bathroom breaks for the full 24 hours. 

“It’s a very emotional time, very emotional,” Chambers’ wife, Lorraine Heist-Chambers, said. “This is something that he needs to do every year and I support him for it. No matter what it takes, we get out here.”

In addition to his yearly salutes, Chambers has a charity called “The Saluting Marine Cares,” helping to pay veterans’ medical bills that are not covered by the VA. 

“Health, relationships, financial, those are the biggest things that contribute to suicide,” said Sabrina Barella, who helps run his charity. “None of us take a salary with the charity, so everything goes to veterans. We don’t believe in handouts but we believe in hand-ups.”

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