PLAYA DEL REY (CBSLA) — Saturday, seven wounded veterans — six men and one woman — set out on a remarkable journey that also had a charitable cause.
CBS2’s Joy Benedict said the journey would go from sea to shining sea.
They are part of a growing group — that no one wants to belong to.
“I was so pissed I lived,” said Adele Loar. Her journey started in 1989 when she joined the US Air Force. Seventeen years later, the Master Sergeant was in Baghdad.
“An explosive foreign projectile hit our vehicle. killed my partner, immediately wiped out my eye, killed the driver,” she said.
Loar now has a prosthetic eye. Part of her shoulder is still missing. The initials of the fallen are etched when she can see them.
But she said it’s the wounds you can’t see that still hurt.
“My neighbors kids will play outside and I’m grateful they are out there playing but at the same time hearing their noise I will hide in my basement because it freaks me out mentally,” Loar says.
She has PTSD. She is now walking with a purpose.
“If I can walk a thousand miles and stop one person from killing themselves,” says veteran Jonny Burns, “then I know I’ve done something right.”
Not all the veterans walking are American soldiers. Burns served in the British army. He injured his shoulder in Afghanistan and after being discharged he ended up in a shelter for homeless veterans in England.
“In the past year I’ve lived in the veterans center I’ve lost two friends to mental health issues,” Burns says.
And he admits that he sometimes struggles, too.
“I’ve been down the suicide the suicide route quite a few times in my life,” he says.
And although their stories can be somber, their new purpose is not.
By September 6, they hope to arrive at Ground Zero.