He walked 2,800 miles for his brothers and sisters in arms

Eric Dehm
August 30, 2019 - 12:57 pm

Tom Zurhellen just completed the most physically, and mentally exhausting undertaking of his life. The former Navy Nuclear Electrician, and current Marist College professor, walked 2,800 miles from Oregon to New York to raise awareness of the mental health issues facing the veteran community.

He tells ConnectingVets that his decision to launch the VetZero initiative and then to do something "really big and crazy" came after becoming Commander of VFW Post 170 in Poughkeepsie, New York. Prior to that point, Zurhellen says he wasn't aware of the staggering number of veterans struggling with mental health issues, homelessness, and a number of other issues. So he set out to let everyone else know and found that much of the country was as unaware as he was. 

"I would meet veterans and people who love veterans as I was walking on the street every day as I walked," Zurhellen said during an appearance on the Eye on Veterans radio show. "Many of them had no idea about the numbers. The 22 veteran suicides every day in America or the 40,000-plus homeless veterans every night in America. They were really shocked, and I think everybody wants to do something to help our veterans, I think that's one thing we can all agree on. But if you don't know about these numbers you think everything's fine and say 'thank you for your service' but it's really not fine."

To hear more about Zurhellen's walk, his thoughts on whether more veterans should consider going into teaching, and more you can listen to the full interview above coupled with photos from his cross-country journey. 

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