Could you walk 3000 miles? William Shuttleworth is, for his fellow vets

Julia LeDoux
August 23, 2019 - 3:31 pm
William Shuttleworth

Photo courtesy of William Shuttleworth

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Walking across the country isn't for everyone, but for Air Force veteran William Shuttleworth it is.

He began his 3,000-mile journey May 15 from his home in Newburyport, Massachusetts with the goal of reaching Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Rosa, California in order to bring attention to a variety of veterans issues.

“I’m so proud and delighted that I’ve met so many wonderful people in America,” he said.  “The goal is to meet as many people as possible with the same heart space for veterans.”   

Last year Shuttleworth was working at an outdoor camp in California where many disadvantaged veterans stay when his inspiration for the walk struck.

“Listening to their stories at the picnic table every day about how sad they were, how depressed they were, how they were denied services, on drugs, I came home and told my wife I wanted to do something about it,” he said.

 

William Shuttleworth
Photo courtesy of William Shuttleworth

Shuttleworth, 71, zeroed in on the idea of walking across the country because he’s been blessed with good health, despite the fact that his brother died of ALS and his sister has Alzheimer’s.

“I want to make a difference by advocating for change,” he explained.

The walk, dubbed "Vets Don’t Forget Vets" by Shuttleworth, seeks to draw attention to veteran suicide, homelessness, and health care issues. During his months on the road, Shuttleworth said he’s talking with as many veterans, family members and elected officials as possible in order to keep those issues at the forefront of public discourse.

“I want the same health care plan for veterans that Congress has,” he said.

Shuttleworth, who is currently in Arizona, would also like to see more veterans in elected office.

“Without having a strong representation of veterans in Congress, we can get lost in all the other priorities that we’re trying to hammer out in this crazy, wonderful world of ours,” he said.

His only luggage is a 25-pound backpack loaded with supplies and the tent he sleeps in each night.

“My favorite part is really coming into small towns and meeting people who haven’t been listened to and feel their voices are lost,” he said.

Shuttleworth is also raising money via a GoFundMe page to pay for his living expenses on the road and has a website that is chronicling his journey.

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Reach Julia LeDoux: Julia@connectingvets.com

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