WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - A United States Army Veteran is spreading awareness of PTSD one mile at a time. Eli Smith is traveling across the nation on bike and foot. Today he traveled through West Lafayette.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, about 20 veterans die from suicide daily. As a result, US Army Veteran Eli Smith created the "4 Corners Hike".
Throughout the journey, Smith will visit all four corners of the continental United States. "I wanted to do something that no one else has done before. That's pretty hard to find,” said Smith.
The journey helps raise awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder. "When I went to tell people "Hey I want to do this for our Veterans, I want to start walking across the country," people didn't believe me. They just looked and me and said you're not walking anywhere man,” said Eli.
Eli started the journey in November of 2016 from Pensacola, Florida and hasn't looked back since. "I sold everything I had. I got my gear and a plane ticket. I got out of the airport and said San Diego is that way, let's start walking,” said Eli Smith.
Smith spent the first several months hiking, but soon got a bike. With a faster method of travel, he has been able to travel to additional locations. To this day, he has more than five thousand miles under his belt. "It's a very lonely journey even though I'm surrounded by so many great people every day. I don't really see my family or friends often,” said.
The trip has had its share of dangers too. Eli has been hit by multiple cars and has even been the target of kidnap events. Despite these dangers, he continues to spread his message. "Don't assume that if you know a veteran, they seem fine, that they're okay. Just let them know you appreciate them and you're thinking about them,” said Smith.
You can follow Smith's journey on his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/4CornersHike/