Army veteran journeys across country to bring awareness about PTSD

Published: Sep. 18, 2018 at 5:06 PM CDT
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20 vets a day -- that's the number of estimated veterans who commit suicide after suffering from PTSD.

Eli Smith, an army veteran himself, wanted to do something to combat the problem.

Two years ago, he started his journey, called the 4CornersHike. He started in Florida, making his way to California and then the Pacific Northwest. He first set off on foot, but picked up a bike along the way, travelling over 10,000 miles.

Smith said he's been hit by cars, almost kidnapped, and even robbed at gunpoint. But to him, his purpose is greater.

"For me to be that instrument to go around, raising awareness on behalf of all these great people across the nation is just -- it's -- I'm lucky, and it's a real privilege to be able to do this," said Smith.

Smith said he's met with thousands of people across the country, so far receiving twelve letters from veterans who've heard about the journey and decided not to commit suicide.

To him, that's what makes it all worth it.

Smith said he tries to focus on visiting small nonprofits around the country that help veterans.

"We need to start taking care of ourselves locally. Don't worry about, you know, all that stuff in DC and overseas -- don't," he said. "Focus on your local community and helping your veterans there and that'll spread and make a big change."

He encourages people to reach out to veterans that they know, and see how they're doing.

At the start of the journey, Smith said he sold his possessions, now living his life off his bike. He says that the journey is donations-based.

To follow his journey and hear more about the veterans that he meets, you can follow his