Three veterans have joined together for a journey across the country, raising awareness over veterans’ issues everywhere they go.
John Ring, Georgia Army National Guard veteran, began his walk across the nation last fall and has since been joined by two other veterans interested in spreading the word.
“Our veterans suffer. Their families suffer also. I have suffered myself from addiction issues. I understand the challenges they face and the strength it takes to overcome addiction,” Ring said to News 13.
Ring started his journey on the Tybee Island Pier in Georgia on October 1st, 2019 at 8 a.m., heading for the Santa Monica Pier in California on the opposite coast. Along the way, Jason Hanner, retired U.S. Navy, and retired U.S. Army Mst. Sgt. Jimmy Mathews joined the hike, looking to help Ring complete his journey and to let citizens know the hardships our country’s veteran face once they return home.
“We’re doing this to raise awareness to the issues like PTSD, TBI, addiction, MST, homelessness and basically everything that is causing veterans to commit suicide at a horrific rate in this country,” Ring said. “We want to talk to veterans talk to everybody and talk about the issues that are important, things that are ignored on a day-to-day basis.”
“A young Marine overdosed from addiction; just not able to cope with it. just makes it that much closer to you and pulls you in,” said Hanner.
Although the trio was forced to take a 53 day break from the journey due to coranvirus, they resumed the walk on May 13th in New Mexico and are still encouraging their fellow veterans to reach out for help.
“They see us back out and seeing it’s kind of getting better, they’ve definitely been reaching out saying we’re keeping them alive that’s motivation right there to keep us going,” said Mathews.
“We’re keeping them motivated and letting them know there’s another day ahead.”
“Help is available and it’s out there. And if you can’t find the help, call us,” Ring added.
The men spent a rest day in Tucson, Arizona on Wednesday and will soon continue on to Phoenix. You can follow their journey here.