One Tennessee veteran has embarked on a 2,200-mile journey to raise awareness of an ongoing epidemic among our nation’s veterans.
Ernesto Rodriguez never stays in one place for too long. The 34-year-old U.S. Army veteran is in the midst of walking from his hometown of Clarksville, Tenn. to Los Angeles. The US Army Infantryman hopes to recognize the average of 22 veterans who commit suicide every day.
WFAA reports Rodriguez spends most of his days walking, stopping for meals, resting and little else. He walks an average of 16-20 miles a day while carrying a 60-pound pack and American Flag.
When Rodriguez began the journey on Veterans Day of this year, he had a walking partner. Since Thanksgiving, Rodriguez has been walking solo.
He credits his endurance to his military training, which he believes equipped him both mentally and physically. He relies on the kindness of strangers when it comes to food and shelter.
Rodriguez’ journey thus far has brought him to Dallas, Texas, and he’ll continue walking I-20 to continue raising awareness. He frequently makes social media posts on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to keep followers involved.
He served in the U.S. Army for 15 years, serving two tours in Iraq and two in Afghanistan. Rodriguez joined at age 19 and retired this past March.