SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - KTVU – After 400 days of walking, an American veteran completed an incredible cross-country journey on Saturday at San Francisco’s Ocean Beach to raise awareness for post-traumatic stress disorder.
Ryan Weldon is a Marine Corps Veteran from South Carolina who embarked on the trip from Dover, Delaware in February 2015. He said he walked 5,000 miles over the course of 400 days.
Weldon, who lives with PTSD, said he decided to walk across the United States after hearing how the serious condition contributes to many veteran suicides.
“The journey is to get the word out there and let people know how serious it is,” Weldon said. “Twenty-two veterans a day take their own life due to post-traumatic stress and as a Marine, I refuse to sit by and do nothing.”
Weldon walked alone across United States pushing a cart he called the Freedom Flyer adorned with an American flag. It housed a tent, clothes, food and other necessities as Weldon mostly camped on the side of the road. He said he stayed with strangers who were supporting his journey or in hotels when the weather was bad.
“At no point did I say I was going to give up. At no point did I say this is too hard to get through,” he said.
San Francisco’s steep hills were the least of his challenges. Weldon faced rough terrain in West Virginia and New Mexico, but it was nothing compared to his encounters with wild animals, according to his mother Ginger Weldon.
“I can’t even begin to tell you what he’s been through to get here. Harsh weather, freezing cold, blizzards, mountains, bears, coyotes… things a mom does not want to hear about,” she said.
But she knew his journey was important. Weldon said even though the trip is behind him, his work work raise about PTSD continues.
“I've seen the effects of PTSD,” Weldon said. “I've lost plenty of friends through KIA and through suicide at home. Veterans are the ones paying the biggest price, but so many people are affected by it that don’t even know.”
Weldon set up a GoFundMe account to help his cause. To learn more, visit www.gofundme.com/5000milediscovery