Leland man on 1,400 mile hike to raise awareness for veterans’ mental health
LELAND, N.C. (WECT) - A Leland man is a week and a half into a months-long hike across several states in an effort to raise money and awareness for veterans’ and first responders’ mental health.
RenoVet is a nonprofit working to help disabled veterans. With only two employees and plenty of work to go around, they tend to keep busy.
“We’ve done everything from complete renovations of houses, everything from repairs of water heaters in the middle of the night to pergolas for people that can’t be outside in direct sunlight a lot,” said owner Jason Rhodes.
Rhodes lives in Leland but has been known to travel quite a distance to help veterans. Now, he’s traveling farther than ever.
“[I’m] grateful that I’m able to help them when they’re not able to help themselves,” said Rhodes.
Over the next couple of months, Rhodes is walking from Sutton, North Carolina, to Austin, Texas. His goal is to raise a dollar for each step he takes, which is estimated to add up to about $2.7 million. The money raised will go toward building facilities in each state his journey takes him through, each one aiming to help build a community for veterans and first responders.
“They’re going to be, you know, woodworking shops,” said Rhodes. “When I was in [the military,] we had these things called hobby shops, you’re able to pull a car in and work on it and things like that. Just kind of a community thing where people can come in, perform hobbies, learn some skills.”
The hope is that by providing a space for veterans and first responders to connect with each other, they’ll find the support system needed to address mental health concerns.
“The longer they’re there, the more they’ll seek companionship and they’ll also seek that comradery, which is something a lot of us lose when they get out,” said Rhodes.
As Rhodes works his way across the south, he’s looking forward to the difference this project could make in veterans’ lives and feels lucky to be the one to make the first step.
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