Going the extra mile, or should we say going the extra few hundred miles. A veteran is walking across the country to visit the families of fallen marines, help his fellow troops deal with PTSD, and help himself deal with the same issues. FOX35’s Jackie Orozco caught up with the Marine from Maryland when he made a stop in Indian Harbor Beach in Brevard County.
Jonathan Hancock walks 30 miles a day.
“Somedays I sleep in a tent, some days I don’t,” the 32-year old veteran told us.
He carries about 70 pounds of gear too. Hancock started his journey on September 11th 2015 in Maryland after realizing too many of his marines with PTSD were committing suicide when they came back home from war. Hancock almost lost his life too.
“If I was hurting as bad as I was some of those guys might be hurting as I was. I went down a pretty tough road: two DUI’s and a suicide attempt later. I started understanding what I could do in my life versus just sitting in the dark and waiting,” Hancock stated.
That’s when Hancock’s life changed forever. He packed his gear, gym shoes, and walking stick and journeyed across country. He wants to help as many marines he served with cope with post-traumatic stress as he can.
“It’s a journey of self-healing as well and taking those memories at task after 8 years of combat,” said Hancock.
He’s also visiting the families of fallen marines also known as “gold star families.” The Schrage family is the first gold star family he’s seen so far. Hancock served with Marine Corporal Dustin Schrage, Nina’s son.
“He (Dustin) became a rescue swimmer, and was a very strong swimmer so he was part of an amphibious unit out of camp Elton and that’s where he met John,” said Corporal Dustin Schrage’s mother, Nina Schrage.
Dustin Schrage joined the military right out of high school. He was killed in Iraq in 2004. He was 20 years old. She says having Hancock around is like her son.
“There’s been so much healing I mean the second night he was here,” said Mrs. Schrage “I’ve met them, I embrace them, I love them, I look at them as I would think about my son coming home.”
Hancock spent a week at her Indian Harbor Beach house before continuing his cross-country journey. Hancock wants to be in California by Christmas 2016. For Nina Schrage, she hopes his journey will help save lives and have other military families open their doors as she did.
“The ones I’ve met are doing ok but I’ve also met some that since committed suicide. They came to my house, they spent a week with me and committed suicide a few years later so it’s real, it’s real,” Nina Schrage stated. “I have a vision that this can become a movement, like wouldn’t that be amazing if some vets started walking with you along your route.”
It’s a route that has healed so many invisible wounds.
If you would like more information or help with Hancock’s journey click here: https://www.gofundme.com/pv5gxs