LAS VEGAS (KSNV NEWS3) — Eli Smith, a U.S. Army veteran, who began his 13,000-mile walk across the U.S., to raise awareness for military veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Smith started his hike in Pensacola, Florida, the day before Thanksgiving and headed west.
Smith said the only way he'll return home prematurely is if he sustains an injury that takes more than three months to heal, or for a funeral, and he expects the most difficult stretch of his journey to be the hike from Austin, Texas, to El Paso, Texas, because there isn't a freeway to follow and he'll be by himself for three to four weeks.
One of the highlights of his trip so far has been when he stayed with a woman and met her son who suffers from PTSD and has barely spoken in two years, Smith said. When Smith introduced himself to the son and showed him the map of the hike on a card Smith made for the journey, the son opened up.
It's estimated that between 11 and 20 percent of veterans from Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, 12 percent of veterans from the Gulf War and 30 percent of veterans from the Vietnam War suffer from PTSD, according to the National Center for PTSD through the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs.
"If I can save just one life from this hike, then that'll be worth it for me," said Smith.
Smith will arrive in Las Vegas around 7:30 p. m. , where he and 20 local veterans will be served dinner at Jackson Bar & Grill located at 6020 West Flamingo and Jones.
According to Daily World, Smith is on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram at 4cornershike, and is accepting donations at gofundme.com/4cornershike and patreon.com/4cornershike. He's also on Snapchat as fourcornershike.