Mt. Washington martial arts gym uses fundraiser to 'kick-out' veteran suicide

MT. WASHINGTON, Ky. (WDRB) -- Ending the silence and saving our nation's veterans. That's the mission of a Mount Washington gym, taking matters into its own hands.

It was toward the end of the cold war and Steve Hamilton was in the U.S. Army infantry. "You had a brotherhood when you was in the military. When you get out, you lose that brotherhood and without that brotherhood, you don't know where to turn," Hamilton said.

Hamilton was able to turn to martial arts and the Bullitt County Sheriff's Department.

"Combined with some of the things I had experienced in the military and the police department, it did affect me and I think that's what led me towards Mission 22."

Mission 22 is a national organization aimed at suicide prevention. According to Mission 22, 20 veterans take their own life every day.

Hamilton is a local ambassador. "It's not about just raising awareness. It's about getting them to places that they can heal and first steps of that would be getting the word out."

That's what's happening inside Three Dragons Martial Arts Academy in Mt. Washington. "For us, this is our community," says Elizabeth Starnes whose son trains at the academy. 

Four days a week, Hamilton and owner John Fowler teach lessons in defense and life. The latest lesson is a fundraiser to benefit Mission 22.

"We're going to attempt 22 boards in 22 seconds, which I don't know if it's ever been done, but we're sure going to try it," Hamilton said.

The goal is to raise $2,200 for programs. "It's going to rock. We're going to bust it up," Fowler said.

"We've raised $250 for the fundraiser. We can't wait to see him break his board and support the veterans," Starnes said.

Hamilton said this will helping local veterans who either can't afford resources or aren't sure where to go, which is a reality for most.

"You're going to bring back some things with you that are going to haunt you for the rest of your life," Fowler said. "We need more for these guys. Let's sit and talk and get their stories out and kind of take some pressure off of them. We should give them the thanks and the appreciation that they deserve."

Kicking out veteran suicide, one board at a time. "We had a lot to explain to a six-year-old, teaching him how to give back was so important and that there's something bigger than ourselves," Starnes said. "Teaching him more than martial arts and that's what this school's about."

The board-kicking marathon fundraiser is Saturday at 1 p.m. at Three Dragons Martial Arts Academy located at 155 North Bardstown Road in Mt. Washington, Kentucky.

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