NEWBURYPORT, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) William Shuttleworth is an Air Force Veteran who knows the issues that some of his fellow military veterans face.
A recent study by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs showed that 20 vets take their lives every day — and the military calls the rise in veteran suicides an "enduring and pressing emergency" for the nation. Shuttleworth said it's not just from the more recent wars.
“A lot of the men that came back from Vietnam had very difficult to diagnose illnesses: PTS and agent orange. They still suffer with it 50 years later.” Shuttleworth said.
There are many and at age 71 Shuttleworth said he's doing something about it.
On Wednesday morning Shuttleworth grabbed his backpack at his home in Newburyport -- and began a 3,000-thousand mile walk across the country to California.
It's a journey he's dubbed "Vets Don't Forget Vets."
He does not believe that anyone his age has tried to walk across the country.
“Most people my age do not have the strength to walk that far — 20 miles a day,” he said.
Shuttleworth said that the trip should take about seven months to complete, ending at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Lompoc, California.
“What’s motivating [this] more than anything is my awareness that the needs for veterans have been obscured by other priorities,” he said, “it’s time that at least one person take the lead to see if we can make some changes.”
He plans to keep those veterans in his mind as he tries to take on this daunting, unprecedented journey and hopes other veterans come join him in raising awareness for veteran suicide and homelessness.
WBZ NewsRadio’s Jeff Brown @JeffBrownWBZ reports.