In the middle of one of the hottest summers ever recorded, a Denver area man is walking across the nation as he tries to raise awareness of the problems military members and their families face after returning home from combat tours of duty.
23-year-old Matt Kerner started his walk in June in San Francisco and plans on hiking at least 20 miles a day until he reaches Washington DC early next year. Matt sold most of his belongings and put together whatever money he could before taking his journey. He now carries most of his possessions with him in a backpack decorated with an American and Marine Corps flag.
The Marine Corps flag is there mostly because of Justin Kerner, Matt’s older brother, who is a Marine Corps sergeant who served two tours of duty in Iraq. After Justin returned home, Matt says his brother struggled with post traumatic stress disorder, a problem that affected him and his family. Some of Justin’s friends also suffered from the condition and some took their own lives after returning home.
Even though Matt carries camping gear with him, he has had to spend relatively few nights camping alone. The charity he is working with, Active Heroes, has been coordinating with people along Matt’s routes to provide him a place to stay every night. So far he’s slept in places such as hotels and firehouses as he’s made his way across the country.
You can follow Matt’s progress through his Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/10millionpeoplewhosupportourtroops