A long walk for veterans: Former soldier trekking to 4 corners of lower 48 to phone notice to PTSD, suicide – Peninsula Day-to-day Information


PORT TOWNSEND — Eli Smith, an Army veteran from Ohio, is using a long walk to phone notice to the plight of veterans suffering from article traumatic tension ailment.

“I dropped a handful of pals that I served with to PTSD and suicide, and I wished to do some thing about it,” mentioned Smith, 37, as he geared up to go away Port Townsend on Friday.

He experienced concluded about half of his thirteen,000-mile walk to all 4 corners of the continental United States when he arrived in Port Townsend past 7 days after reaching his next milestone at Cape Flattery a handful of days earlier.

Smith began his walk from Pensacola, Fla., in November. In San Diego, he stopped where the U.S.-Mexico border fulfills the Pacific Ocean, then headed north to Cape Flattery — the westernmost point in the lower 48 states — just before turning east to travel throughout the North Olympic Peninsula.

Heading east

Just after a excursion home to Ohio to see his family and rest for the winter season, he plans to return to Port Townsend in March and head east to the West Quoddy Lighthouse in Maine on the nation’s easternmost peninsula, then walk down the East Coast to Important West in Florida.

Alongside the way, he posts video clip updates and shots on his Facebook web page, 4Cornershike, and responses people today who write him there.

A internet site, 4cornershike.org, collects donations both for his walk and for four Corners Charities, a 501(c)(three) nonprofit that “aims to raise funds and qualified companies for our veterans in need” by “undertaking tasks and events that include general public involvement with our veterans,” in accordance to its internet site, www.fb.com/4cornerscharities.

In Neah Bay, Smith met with associates of the Veterans of International Wars, he mentioned in a Wednesday video clip article.

“What a incredible working experience to listen to [the Makah’s] background,” he mentioned.

“I’ve by no means noticed forests like the forests out there,” he additional.

He also mentioned a further characteristic of the Peninsula: “It doesn’t rain really hard here but just flippantly, just all the time.”

Smith posted on Wednesday: “4,four hundred miles, eleven pairs of shoes, many Veterans served, four backpacks, one cart, two rain forests, three deserts, one warmth stroke, one hurricane relief mission, and 328 days later, I’ve arrive to the 2nd corner. There is still a long way nevertheless to go but I am so thankful to all who have served to make this journey probable so considerably! I like you all and I glimpse forward to carrying out so considerably much more good for our Veterans on my journey now to Maine!”

He plans to article video clip of his pay a visit to to Neah Bay before long, he mentioned.

On Wednesday, Smith attended a meeting in the American Legion corridor in Port Townsend, then expended the night time in a donated resort area and experienced supper at the Outdated Whiskey Mill just before leaving Friday afternoon.

Smith, who served in South Korea as a tank gunner just before he was discharged in 2002, mentioned he has wished to undertake a walk since he to start with heard about a close friend committing suicide.

He’d heard about others walking throughout the U.S. and wished to do some thing various. A close friend advised walking to the 4 corners.

“Something about it just stuck,” Smith mentioned.

So he marketed all the things, packed a bag and went to Florida to start off his excursion.

“When I say I marketed all the things, I signify all the things,” Smith mentioned. “My pickup truck, my dresses, I gave my cats to my neighbor’s young children. I held a box of stuff that’s sentimental, but all I’ve received is my gear.

“The purpose is to make the general public mindful that our veterans will need aid, especially some of the older men,” he mentioned.

The four Corners Charities website claims that “there have been experiences that 22 Veterans and one active responsibility company member eliminate this fight and commit suicide every single day.”

Vietnam veterans in particular are at the maximum risk of suicide, in accordance to the Countrywide Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

“I’m a large advocate of just calling a veteran you know, or sending a text,” Smith mentioned. “Just request how they are.”

Smith mentioned on Friday he acquired his eighth information from a veteran who was considering suicide but adjusted his thoughts after locating his Facebook web page or an post about his walk.

“That’s been too much to handle,” Smith mentioned. “If I experienced just served one particular man or woman by the time this was all carried out, it would be worthy of it.”

Smith has not just been walking on his excursion. He mentioned in some of the much larger towns, he’s tried out to get veterans alongside one another or at minimum aid one particular man or woman out.

In Las Vegas, he mentioned he organized a supper and took all people out for supper and beverages. He tells of buying a homeless veteran supper and a resort area to continue to be in for the night time in Los Angeles.

“Going forward, we want to do much more stuff like that,” Smith mentioned.

Smith mentioned he plans to fly home for the winter season and wait around to deal with the Cascades and the Rocky Mountains in the spring, fairly than push by way of in the winter season.

“I’d almost certainly die,” mentioned Smith, who is traveling on your own with no guidance cars.

Smith mentioned he’s experienced a handful of close to-demise encounters on the excursion. He was almost kidnapped in Texas, ran into much more than a handful of rattlesnakes, experienced a minimal come across with a bear and nervously shared the highway with logging vans on his trek throughout the North Olympic Peninsula.

Even so, Smith mentioned it’s not all negative. He ran into a herd of elk close to Brinnon and witnessed hundreds of bald eagles close to Neah Bay.

“There’s bald eagles all over the spot out there,” Smith mentioned in an awed tone in the Wednesday video clip article on his Facebook web page. “I was in Ohio for twenty several years and I’d noticed [only] one particular.”

On his winter season split, he also hopes to capture up on his writing.

“I’ve received so many stories of the people today I’ve met,” Smith mentioned. “Just insane magnificent encounters.”

He is on the lookout forward to being with his mother, brothers, aunts and uncles, and daughter in Ohio for the holidays.

“It’ll be great to be home since I have not noticed my family since I commenced,” Smith mentioned.

He hopes to devote the winter season resting and amassing funds for the rest of the excursion, which is funded entirely by donations.

“I feel I’m down to $one hundred or so now,” Smith mentioned. “We’re on the lookout for a pair sponsors. Almost nothing large, we’re not attempting to raise $one hundred,000 or anything, but the up coming leg is likely to be awhile.

“I received by way of the South quite rapid. The moment you hit west Texas, it’s quite flat, but this up coming leg will be stunning but fewer exciting to walk.”

Apart from his have expenses, which are quite minimum, Smith mentioned he wants to do much more events for veterans as he crosses the state to Maine.

“I just want to say thank you to all people in this element of the state,” Smith mentioned. “I’ve just felt so welcome.”


Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be attained at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at cmcfarland@peninsuladailynews.com.

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