GLENDALE, AZ (February 28, 2017) – Military and veteran support organization, Packages From Home, and Eli Smith, a remarkable veteran who is hiking across America to raise awareness for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other veterans issues, are teaming up while Smith is in Arizona.
The two groups are pooling their resources to support one another and bring awareness to the country’s growing veterans issues, including veteran homelessness and mental health disorders, such as PTSD.
“On average, we lose 22 of our veterans to suicide stemming from PTSD,” said Smith. “That’s 22 too many. I needed to do something about it. After a while, and looking at what other people have done to raise awareness, I decided on a hike.”
But not just any hike. Smith carefully planned a 13,000+ mile hike along the perimeter of the continental United States, reaching all four “corners” of the nation. His goal is simple: “To get the hike completed and be able to save just one life. If I can help save just one life, then all the hardships, winters in the north, deserts, pain, loneliness, and everything else will be absolutely worth it!”
In fall of 2016, Smith began training and preparing for – what he has dubbed – the 4 Corners Hike. Smith chose to embark on this cross-country trek in honor of the veterans who have lost their battle to PTSD – a condition of persistent mental and emotional stress that, per the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, affects nearly 31 percent of Vietnam veterans, 10 percent of Gulf War (Desert Storm) veterans, 11 percent of veterans of the war in Afghanistan and 20 percent of Iraqi war veterans.
Packages From Home’s Director of Fundraising, Sarah Perry, first learned of Smith’s journey on social media. “I happened upon Eli’s journey on Instagram and reached out to congratulate him on his amazing work and see if he needed any supplies or support,” said Perry. “His mission is so profound and important and lines up with Packages From Home’s mission perfectly so I wanted to make sure we were helping him however we could. Anyone who sells all of his belongings to go on a three-year hike for our veterans has Packages From Home’s attention and encouragement, one hundred percent!”
When Smith reached Phoenix, Arizona on day 98 of his journey, he remembered the invitation to visit Packages From Home, pick up some supplies, and assemble a care package for a currently-deployed American military hero in need.
“We love having Eli here in Arizona,” said Perry,” but it’s almost time for him to get back on the road to continue his important work. And he can’t do it alone so we’re making a call to the community to help Eli get the support and resources he needs to carry on.”
For those who want to join Packages From Home in supporting Smith’s 4 Corners Hike, please visit https://www.facebook.com/4CornersHike/ to make a donation or reach out with other opportunities, such as: hiking and camping gear, food and hygiene supplies, a place to stay along his route, and more.
Watch the video about Eli’s story, thanks to our friends at CBS 5 and 3TV, here.