Man hikes across the country to raise PTSD awareness

- A veteran is spreading awareness of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by walking to every corner of the country, and recently, Eli Smith made his way through Phoenix.

"I lost a couple friends to PTSD," said Smith. "It really affected me."

Smith said the pain of loss is something too many people like his know too well.

"It started happening through my social circle, and I wanted to do something about it," said Smith.

Smith said the plan to walk to every corner of the country came as a suggestion that his friend made jokingly. On November 22, however, Smith took off from Pensacola, Fla., on a trip that will eventually take him to to San Diego, Washington state, Maine, and back in the Florida keys.

Smith said he expects the trip to take four years.

"I sold everything I had to get this hike started," said Smith. "From my pickup truck to my soup spoons."

Smith has only a backpack to hold his essential items, which includes a phone charger that is powered by the sun. He walks along empty roads, camps next to flowing water, while meeting fellow veterans, making new friends, and spreading the stories of the ones he lost.

That's all in an effort on Smith's part of educating as many people as he can, about the effects of PTSD.

"You'd be surprised the amount of people who don't even know what it stands for," said Smith. "When I tell them that on average, we lose 22 of our veterans every day to suicide from PTSD, they almost think that's a myth that they've heard, and that couldn't be farther from the truth."

Smith is documenting his entire trip on his Facebook page. To learn more, click here.


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