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Clarence man raising mental health awareness by rowing across the Atlantic

Miller and his team are preparing to row across the Atlantic Ocean. It's a 3,000-mile journey where he'll constantly be moving forward and pushing against his past.

CLARENCE, N.Y. — The waves of the Great Lakes may not be the size of those in the Atlantic Ocean. But as Chad Miller of Clarence has learned, you have to conquer the small challenges before you can face the big ones.

Or in his case, a 3,000-mile one, as Miller and his team prepare to row across the Atlantic Ocean. It's a journey where he'll constantly be moving forward, but at the same time, pushing against his past.

"I called them, and I regret calling them to this day. My mom knew something was wrong," Miller said. "I know, my brother knew something was wrong. I just intended on walking into work and then being like, 'Hey, I'm going to go, be right back, to the bathroom.' And I planned on that being it."

That was one of two times in Miller's life where he thought about committing suicide, while serving five tours in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Persian Gulf.

RELATED: WNY veteran will row across Atlantic to raise money in support of veterans

"They call it 22 a day, because that's how many veterans take their own lives. You scroll through your Facebook page and it's like, 'There's another one. There's another one,' " Miller said.

Nick Rahn was almost one of them.

"I loaded well over 5,000 rounds of ammunition, that's the only misfire ever had, so it's very apparent that it wasn't supposed to go off," Rahn said.

And after four tours together, he was the one Miller called when he thought about taking his own life a second time.

"Sometimes there's truths that you don't want to hear, that you need to hear in order to change where you're at and where you're trajectory is," Miller said.

"I was lucky enough to get a second chance, and I decided that I was just going to utilize that second chance to try to inspire as many people as I can."

That's what they plan to do, alongside the two other members of the Fight Oar Die team — Tommy Hester of landlocked Nebraska and William Janssen of Webster, Wisconsin — as they embark on their journey next month, with the mission of inspiring other veterans going through similar struggles.

But just crossing the ocean isn't enough. The team is aiming to set a new world record by becoming the fastest U.S. veteran team to accomplish the feat in under 50 days, 11 hours, and 8 minutes on a body of water nine times bigger than the ones they've been training on.

"It seemed like an impossible challenge," Miller said. "Then we got on the boat, we got the team together, and we started training together, then it didn't seem so impossible."

So as he straps in to his rowing machine here at home for the final times, Miller's mind is at ease, because he knows this time he won't have to face this challenge alone.

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