“I’m currently hiking to all four corners of the continental U.S. I lost a few friends to PTSD and I want to do something about it so I sold everything and hopped on a plane down to Pensacola and started walking to San Diego.”
United States Army veteran Eli Smith is in the middle of a four-year-long trek up, down and across America — 13,000 miles in total — where he’ll motor on to raise awareness for a disorder that claims the lives of so many former service members. Throughout his mission, he’ll experience pretty much everything Woody Guthrie described way back in 1944, from the Redwood forest to the Gulf stream waters to the sparking sands of her diamond deserts.
And while the views will be priceless, taking them in and carrying on with such a goal in mind doesn’t come without immense sacrifices.
“The hardest part would be missing my family,” he told 8 News Now Good Day in Las Vegas. “I have a 12-year-old daughter that lives in Tennessee with my ex-wife. She’s a great mom, and they’re both on board. She’s such a wonderful little kid and she understands what I’m doing and is real supportive and I get to talk to her on Skype often.”
“When I was going through West Texas, it was about five days at one point before I even saw another human. So that gets a little rough.”
“Saw a couple of wild goats and made friends with them. Just give them names and they kind of follow me along.”
“Then I realized I was talking to goats and it was time to get back.”
Smith tries to make a nightly appearance on his Facebook Live feed (you can access it here) and said its presence has already stopped a vet from taking his life.
“A Vietnam veteran took his pistol into his bathroom and was ready to … and he was going through his phone and looking pictures of his family on Facebook and literally saying goodbye and he wrote this letter … and then someone shared my page and he saw it, and he actually changed his mind,” said Smith.