ABILENE, Texas - A veteran is walking across the country to honor veterans who have lost their lives to suicide and to bring awareness for those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Ernesto Rodriguez, who served in the U.S. Army for fifteen years, is walking 2,200 miles from Clarksville, Tenn. to Los Angeles. He made a stop for the weekend in Abilene.
"I've met a lot of family members whose sons, daughters, husbands and wives had been affected by PTSD, and it's always good to share time with them and hear their story. It definitely motivates me to keep moving forward," Rodriguez said.
He carries a sixty-pound backpack along with the U.S. flag he plans to leave in California. Rodriguez accumulated signatures on his backpack from veterans he met along the way. So far, he has walked 823 miles with a little over 1,300 miles to go.
Rodriguez describes his journey as painful but fulfilling.
"Everyday I wake up I want to go home, but this message is bigger than me and it’s a message that needs to be brought to light, so I'll just keep walking," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez is staying in Abilene this weekend and will continue his journey on Monday. Rodriguez is on track to reach Los Angeles by mid-to-late March.
His goal is to not raise funds, but raise hope for these soldiers and veterans. Rodriguez said he is not taking monetary donations, but won’t pass up a free hotel stay.
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