Coast-to-Coast Walking Tour for Vets May to September 2019. 3600 miles.


Planning my 2nd half route

Halfway There!

My Walk Across America for Veterans: A Review at the Halfway Point, Smith Center, Kansas

July 4th, 2019

 

I am writing this from Smith Center, Kansas, the geographic midpoint of the United States. I left my home in Newburyport, MA, on May 15th. I had several goals:

  • Encourage veterans to run for office
  • Address veteran suicide in a more direct way (about 50 vets kill themselves a day).
  • End veteran homelessness by 2030
  • Develop a more comprehensive plan for veteran Opioid and drug addiction
  • Improve the medical and mental health delivery system for all vets.
  • Raise the starting pay for all enlisted soldiers
  • Raise $100,000 for Disabled American Veterans, Charitable Trust


I have walked 1,700 miles in all kinds of weather. I have not let rain, sleet, tornado warning and l00 degree heat deter my focus. I have been blessed to meet hundreds and hundreds of great Americans who love our veterans and people have come out in droves to meet me and greet me. There are some very common themes:

  • Many vets have severe PTSD, often untreated, often denied. Almost every vet knows someone what has killed themselves or are at risk to do so.
  • Many vets have continued struggles receiving services from Veteran’s Administration. Though there are pockets of excellent service, it is spotty, very inconsistent and the most common concern expressed to me on this journey across America.
  • The service groups to support veterans (American Legion, VFW, AmVets, etc. are struggling with declining participation, a grave concern that threatens future advocacy at the national level.
  • You see homeless vets even in the smallest towns in America.

All of this makes my walk so purposeful and the feedback I get from every town I have visited is overwhelming. Increasingly, as my walk across America becomes better organized and known, more people reach out to me to talk, to invite me into their homes and to offer me financial support to fund my walk. 


Perhaps, the two major themes that I have found are:

  1. It seems everyone loves our veterans and want them to have all they need and deserve.
  2. The heart of this country is filled with goodness. One might get a distorted view of this country by tuning into the nightly news, but if you want to see America at its very best, put a pair of walking shoes on and start walking across this country. You will unlimited kindness, graciousness, people filled with love and gratitude, people who want to make sure that everyone had the opportunity to fulfill the American dream. I have had so many guardian angels who reach out with donations, food, housing, kind words and spontaneous acts of goodness.


I have begun to think of what the next steps for my walk will be when I get to California.

Here are some of my thoughts to this point:

  1. I will form a non-profit to continue my advocacy for veteran issues, and will use the last half of my walk to become more focused on how to best use my energies and learnings from this journey.
  2. I am asking for an independent counsel to review the distribution of funds and the administration of Veteran’s Affairs. I am not pointing fingers or blame, but I do think that there is overwhelming evidence for this recommendation.
  3. I want to support veterans to run for office and will reach out to veterans to provide support for campaigns that could make a difference at the state or national level.
  4. I am advocating for the same health plan for veterans that Congress gives themselves. It is not too much to ask that they receive the same benefits for putting their life on the line in defense of every freedom we cherish.


In summary, I want to thank the thousands of people that I have met and who have reached out to support this ambitious venture on my part. I am doing well, buoyed by the incredible tender mercies extended to me on a daily level. I am blessed to have all of you who have reached out to me.


Blessings,

William Shuttleworth

Help Me Reach My Goal

The generosity of those who have supported me along my journey has been nothing short of amazing. Please help me reach my stretch goal of $100,000 for Disabled American Veterans.

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