When running or biking across the country wasn’t going to cut it, this father-son duo grabbed two kayaks.
Hoping to spread awareness about veteran suicide, father Jeff Hastings and his son Logan are taking a 2,300-plus mile kayak trip down the Mississippi River.
Both United States Army veterans, they recognize the importance of creating more resources for veterans and their families due to the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicide. In fact, an average of 22 veterans commit suicide every single day.
It is reasonable to assume that the two chose to kayak due to previous experience with the sport. However, the Hastings are actually new-comers to the activity.
“Neither of us had been on kayaks before. You can watch YouTube videos about it all day, but it’s not like doing the real thing,” said Logan.
They decided to kayak because Logan sustained severe injuries during his time in the service that made running or walking long distances impossible. Kayaking allows them to bring awareness in a unique way while still making the journey physically demanding.
More on their reasoning (via Stars & Stripes):
“A lot of people say to us, ‘That’s a great cause.’ But my hope is that they move beyond that, and it moves them to some kind of action. Either get involved in a vet’s life, or get involved in an organization that helps veterans,” Jeff Hastings said.
The cause is personal for Logan Hastings. He’s lost a couple of his Army buddies to suicide and doesn’t want to lose anymore. That’s why he and his father camp every night on their way to the Gulf of Mexico — to earn just a piece of the hardship veterans with post traumatic stress disorder face on a daily basis.
“I want to make myself struggle physically,” Logan said. “I don’t want to spend the night in a hotel, or eat out every night.”
Jeff founded the Warrior 180 Foundation that seeks to help veterans in crisis. To donate or find out more, you can visit their site at www.warrior180.org.
Jeff Hastings served as a critical care chaplain while Logan completed two combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.They started the trip in May and are expected to finish in July.