The competition can get fierce at times, but it's all for fun at the second annual Christmas Eve Shinny Skate at Bonnie Cusack Memorial Outdoor Rink.

Warriors Hockey hosted the second annual skate event.

"It's Canadian slang for shin pads," head coach Chris Block explained the name. "Most of the time when you skate outside, you don't wear full gear, you just win shin pads"

Block helped launch the program two years ago for military veterans like himself.

"When you're playing hockey, all your worried about is playing hockey," Block said.

The games also help active and retired military, including Block, deal with the unseen scars.

"It's a constant thing, unfortunately; anxiety, PTSD, just being alone," he said.

A 2018 report released by the Department of Veterans Affairs estimates at least 20 veterans commit suicide daily nationwide.

Most people feel merry during December, but national research also shows it's also normal to get depressed during the holidays.

"A lot of us deploy during this time, lost friends over these times, survivor's guilt; there's a lot of things going on in your head," Block said.

Fueled by his own feelings, Block teamed up with Challenge Alaska to start the Warrior Program.

"They have someone to talk to, someone to call, someone who understands what they may have gone through, or, are going through," Brandon Harker of Challenge Alaska said.

For Block, it makes all the difference to surround veterans with others who get the struggle.

"It's like they understand. We call the military brother or sister," Block said. "This is my family. This will always be my family, no matter what."

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the Alaska’s statewide suicide prevention and crisis support hotline at 877-266-4357. The hotline is available every day, 24/7.

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