Heartland Navy veteran selected as grand marshal of Dogwood-Azalea Festival Parade

Grand Marshal selected in Charleston

CHARLESTON, Mo. (KFVS) - Navy veteran Dustin Johnson has run many miles in his lifetime.

This week, he’ll only have a short walk as the grand marshal of the 2021 Dogwood-Azalea Festival Parade.

“I am very thankful that they believe that what I am passionate about is good enough,” he said.

Johnson is using his passion for running long distance as an opportunity to bring awareness to veterans suicide and mental health.

He discovered on an average day, 22 veterans commit suicide and each year that number is increasing.

“I work with a nonprofit called Stop Suicide, and right now I am in the process of filing my own 501 c(3) called Project Lighthouse that we’ll do here locally,” Johnson explained.

As part of his work, Johnson provides veterans with food, clothes and many other resources.

His dedication to veterans is why he’ll be front and center at the parade.

“Being selected just meant that something that I am passionate about came to rise enough and was good enough and what my passion really is and what the cause is really for,” he said.

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