Veteran on 13,000-mile hike through U.S. to support PTSD stops in Arizona
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -
By Kenya Vasquez
PHOENIX -- A veteran is hiking the four corners of the United States to raise awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicide rates within troops.
Eli Smith started his 13,000-mile hike across America in November. As a former serviceman from the military, Smith knew veterans who suffered from the disorder.
“I’ve lost a few friends that I served with to PTSD," Smith said. "It affected me greatly and I wanted to do something about it and not only friends I’ve served with but also through other military service men and women that I’ve lost through my social circle."
According to Packages From Home, a military support organizational group, 22 veterans lose their lives to disorders every day.
“A lot of times, our veterans feel lonely and feel like their life is not worth nothing anymore," Smith said. "It’s important for the community to reach out to their veterans and let them know they’re here and willing to do anything for them."
Smith plans to continue his hike in hopes of bringing awareness to the issues for the next three years. His hike is being funded solely by donations from the community.
“If anything, it is very life enriching to know that everyone here in America can come together for the greater good and a good cause,” Smith said.
Smith stopped by Phoenix this week and helped Packages From Home send care packages to deployed American troops. His next stops are Nevada and San Diego.
“Nothing is going to stop me from completing this,” Smith said.