June 12, 2023 | 4:19pm
A group of veterans recently challenged themselves physically to make a difference when it comes to PTSD, as June is PTSD Awareness Month.
Seven combat-wounded veterans just completed a five-day PTSD hike through Kansas and Missouri to raise awareness of PTSD.
PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is known to be common among veterans returning home from combat.
Seven out of 100 veterans will suffer from PTSD at some point in their lives, says the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Army veteran Chad Prichard of Colorado led six other veterans through the 105-mile hike that began June 5 at Whiteman Air Force Base in Warrensburg, Missouri, and ended in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, on June 9th.
Pritchard, who grew up in the Midwest, struggled with substance abuse before becoming a runner.
The army veteran was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and when he returned home he struggled with drugs and alcohol for years, he said.
In 2012, Prichard was homeless and struggling to find a way out of his addictions.
A friend of his heard he was struggling and tried to help, giving him an apartment to live in while figuring out his next steps.
Eventually, Prichard got sober and started living a much healthier life and was able to hike over 100 miles in one Midwestern summer.
Prichard spoke to Fox News Digital when he was 56 miles into the hike on day three, explaining more about the fourth annual event and the difference it makes in the lives of veterans.
It’s all to support and raise awareness for PTSD, veteran suicide and mental health, she said of the hike.
The first hike took place in Colorado in 2020, when he and other veterans decided to take the lead in battling some of the mental health issues veterans struggle with in their lives.
Now, after two more excursions to Arizona and Oklahoma, Prichard says the annual event has gained traction.
They welcome anyone interested in joining the excursion.
Prichard creates the course and directs others throughout the adventure, all while raising money for Semper Fi & Americas Fund.
Semper Fi & Americas Fund, headquartered in Camp Pendleton, California, is an organization that provides financial assistance and support to seriously injured, ill and injured veterans and service members. It also helps military families in need, according to the organization’s website.
The hikes can be extremely demanding, Pritchard said, noting that although he’s an ultra-marathoner, he too has to train before the hike.
I highly recommend training for these things. It’s not easy for me either, she said,
You just learn that you are not alone and you have resources and each other.
Various elements, including the weather, can make the hike even more challenging, he noted.
The temperature was in the mid-90s and the humidity was high when Pritchard spoke by phone to Fox News Digital near Longview Lake, Missouri.
The most motivated moment he feels is when he talks to the other veterans who walk beside him, emphasizing that this is what puts one foot in front of the other, he said.
Let’s start getting deep into each other and share some things that have happened to us because we’re here, she said.
I think just getting out of your head and talking to each other was probably the most beneficial way to get over it [the hike].
Pritchard has personally experienced significant growth from taking these excursions with other veterans.
The most beneficial part of hiking for him has been meeting others who have had some of the same life experiences he has, and through that, forming new friendships.
You just learn that you are not alone and that you have resources and each other, she said.
The humility involved is also eye-opening, she also said.
I just learned that humility is probably the best thing any of us can get out of this, because these things [the hikes] they are what you make them, he said.
For more information about supporting the Semper Fi & Americas Fund, visit thefund.org.
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