One man, with approximately 50 pounds of gear on his back, and raw determination, has set out on a grueling journey across America, to be completed one step at a time.
Former US Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Roy Brady (1991-2013 ret), is taking on a new mission to walk across America and raise awareness on behalf of the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge. Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge (CWVC) is an organization committed to improving the quality of life for wounded and injured veterans and their families. The core values of the organization are; challenge oneself to overcome obstacles and limitations (imposed by injuries), support research leading to new developments and improvements, and inspire others to embrace a life of value through hope and purpose.
Brady flew from his home in Ohio, where he had retired, to his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, where he then began his journey on March 1, 2015. Traveling on foot, Brady will end his venture at Camp Pendelton, California. He is walking for military veterans of all branches, to bring awareness to the sacrifices they have made, the challenges they face when returning home from war, whether physically or mentally wounded and to raise money for CWVC.
Brady’s goal is to raise $35,000, as he has already walked through North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, and now continues through Oklahoma, then Texas, New Mexico and Arizona before ending at the front gate of Camp Pendleton in California. This will be approximately a six to eight month journey, as Brady says he walks around 20-25 miles per day.
Brady unfortunately has dealt with two set backs, when his back went out in Tennessee and had him down for a week and another while coming through Oklahoma, when he got caught in the severe thunderstorms, rain and flooding. He spent a few days in a storm shelter at a RV park in Chandler until it was clear to begin walking again.
“My Marine Corps infantry experience has 100 percent helped me. I have mental toughness because of it,” said Brady. “If I add up all of the marching and hiking I did over the course of my career, I probably already walked across America a couple of times,” he added laughing.
In addition to the 22 years of Marine Corps Infantry experience that Brady has, he also trained months prior to starting this mission, to build his stamina and get his retired body back in the groove of engaging in physically demanding activity.
As mentally, physically, and even emotionally prepared as he may be, Brady admits to having one or two fears.
“My fear is not having enough water, not carrying enough water. That’s really my biggest fear and I also don’t like snakes, lightening and I don’t want to run into any wolves, coyotes, or bears or anything. I don’t even want to hear them at night,” Brady said.
All in all he is passionate, determined and will not stop until he reaches his finish line, that he adds he plans to be at before the start of football season. He said he’s “all about football on Saturdays and Sundays.”
“I definitely want everyone to know that even though I’m sacrificing my body, it isn’t about me. I have friends that didn’t come home, I’m walking for their families. I have friends who came home injured, I’m walking for them. I’m walking for all veterans and I want people to realize it’s a serious issue; PTSD, traumatic brain injury, prosthetics, etc. and we need to make it better,” said Brady.
Anyone interested can follow Brady’s cross country adventure at combatwounded.org/walk and donations can be made there as well.
The next destination on his journey is Amarillo, Texas.