Try walking 2,400 miles in Navy veteran Tommy Zurhellen’s shoes!
That’s how many miles Tommy has walked since he began a life-altering journey from Portland, OR ending in his hometown of Poughkeepsie, NY to call attention to veteran suicide and homelessness.
INHS staff, Alison Hunt from Congressman Reed’s office, Mayor of Trumansburg Rordan Hart, Tompkins County Legislator Mike Sigler, Director of the Tompkins County Office of Veterans Services J.R. Clairborne, local veterans and many other community members cheered Tommy on as he walked through Ithaca on August 15, his last stop before making it home to Poughkeepsie.
“This journey was born out of frustration. I was receiving phone calls daily from veterans who needed help. I didn’t realize how much support they needed, and the limited resources available to them,” Tommy told the group, soaking wet from a rainstorm he had just walked through.
In his hometown of Poughkeepsie, he is the Commander of the Veteran of Foreign Wars post and an English professor at Marist College. Since April 15th he’s walked an average of 22 miles each day to recognize the 22 veterans who take their lives every day in America. He’s also working to raise $40,387, representing the average number of veterans experiencing homelessness living on the streets each night in America.
Of the 2,400 miles he’s walked so far, he said “I wake up physically hurting and I go to bed hurting. It’s also been mentally draining. I try to remember that there are so many others hurting and that keeps me going.”
He hopes that after his journey is complete, people are motivated to keep the momentum going and something changes so veterans receive the support they deserve.
Learn more about Tommy and follow his journey across America by following VetZero on Facebook. You can donate here to the VetZero Project Tommy started with a mission of ZERO: zero veteran suicides and zero homeless veterans in our community — and hopefully, in our nation.