ABILENE, Texas - The 2,400-mile, cross-country walk is over for Army veteran Ernesto Rodriguez.
Rodriguez walked to raise awareness for those who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and for the 22 veterans we lose every day from suicide.
He started on Veteran’s Day in Clarksville, Tennessee, and finished on Wednesday at the Santa Monica pier.
In January, we spoke with Rodriguez as he made his way through Abilene.
Now he reflects back on what a journey it was.
"Five months ago, I didn't know if I was going to make it, so knowing that I did something that is very physically and emotionally challenging was amazing," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said this walk has caused his legs to be in a lot pain and he has multiple injuries on his feet. He also said he suffered from heat exhaustion when he reached California.
"I'm happy that I don't have to keep wearing that rucksack. It was heavy, but I am sad that I'm going to stop traveling. As painful as it was, it was an experience I'm never going to forget,” Rodriguez said.
This walk also impacted him emotionally because although he met a lot of people along the way, he still felt isolated.
His next journey won't include walking, but instead he's writing a book with 22 chapters about his story.
"The end of each chapter will have a paragraph that will be in memory of someone we lost to our own internal struggles," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said including this special touch at the end of each chapter is one way to celebrate the life of that veteran and make sure they are always remembered. Most of the proceeds from his book will go towards nonprofit organizations that help veterans.
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