FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – The Hartsville man who made national headlines after he blew up a YETI cooler last month has decided to honor veterans every month until Veterans Day in November.
Bryan Atkinson, and military serviceman Benji Banning, came up with the idea to honor a military veteran each month with a personalized cooler.
“When I has blew the YETI cooler up, I had seen some of the issues Yeti had with the NRA,” said Atkinson. “When I was buying tannerite to blow the cooler up, it come up to be 22 pounds.”
Atkinson said the number, 22, is significant to military veterans.
“The organization 22 Kill is very important to me,” he said.
Atkinson said he wanted to bring awareness to the organization that provides mental health services to military veterans. 22 Kill gives resources to veterans, and aims to give them a sense of purpose.
According to the organization, an average of 22 veterans dies by suicide every day.
“For a veteran to come home fighting and struggling with issues that we can help with,” Atkinson said. “Creating a brotherhood that we can to steer their mind in a different direction from what they’ve brought home, that means a lot to me.”
Atkinson and Banning partnered with Watersedge which is a local company that makes coolers.
The two said they want to put a spotlight on veterans because often times they don’t get the recognition they deserve.
“They fought and done everything they could do to make sure we could do what we do here,” Atkinson said. “And I’d do anything that I can do to make sure they still here.”
Vietnam Veteran, Tommy Dowling, was the first to receive a cooler.
“I’ve never been recognized like this so it’s really a shock and a surprise,” the Navy veteran told News13.
Dowling served in the United States Navy for six years. He said at times, it was difficult, and it makes him appreciate the 22 Kill organization.
“I was aboard the USS Enterprise,” he said. “We went online on December Second at 0730 in North Vietnam in the combat zone.”
Banning and Atkinson said they will continue to highlight veterans until November.
“I believe in my U.S Military, I stand behind them, and I ain’t done yet,” said Atkinson.
Atkinson said his goal is to create a local 22 Kill chapter for Pee Dee veterans.