Aug. 21, 2018 – Filled with pride and a strong sense of accomplishment, six warriors from the United States and United Kingdom walked down the boardwalk at Jacksonville Beach and onto the powdery sands leading toward the Atlantic Ocean. This marked a milestone moment in the group’s Walk of America expedition with Walking With the Wounded and Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP).
Reaching Florida’s east coast shore, they had officially walked from sea to shining sea on a trek that has lasted more than two months and nearly 1,000 miles. The walk is designed to raise awareness and engage communities in a conversation about invisible mental health wounds and the challenges faced by warriors re-entering civilian life.
Seeing the ocean, U.K. Royal Anglian warrior Jonny Burns emotionally embraced his brothers and sister warriors and said, “We started this journey together, side-by-side, on the Pacific Ocean and here we are at the Atlantic, the other side of America. This is an amazing feeling!”
Military service and personal experiences with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury have brought these six warriors, and respective organizations, together for a single cause.
“We stand by U.K. warriors to help dismantle the stigmas of PTSD within our two countries,” said Frankie Perez, U.S. Army veteran. “This collaboration is about the 22 veterans we are losing daily to suicide due to mental health issues.”
“When we first met, we shared an instant bond and strength for this cause,” said Adele Loar, U.S. Air Force veteran. “That initial bond grew stronger with each step and with each veteran met along the way.”
Adele mentioned the group met many Vietnam veterans who came out to support the walk and thank them for bringing attention to mental health awareness for all veterans.
Walking the 1,000-mile journey, which started in California and ends in New York City, are U.S. warriors Frankie Perez, Adele Loar, and Larry Hinkle (Marine Corps); and U.K. warriors Jonny Burns, Kev Carr (Royal Logistics Corps), and Kemsley Whittlesea (Royal Signals).