A military veteran has walked almost 500 miles across Colorado to help people with post-traumatic stress disorder including himself.
Harold Peck Jr. began his several hundred mile hike back in July. Peck spent 28 years in the army and during that time served five tours in Iraq. He left the armed forces with severe PTSD and also an addiction to several medications.
“My back is jacked up [from] IBS and multiple stomach surgeries,” Peck told the Springfield News-Leader.
Upon retiring, doctors told Peck he lacked the ability to carry more than 10 pounds. These days, Peck said he can lift around 55 pounds.
Born in Missouri, Peck now lives in Florida. He began his “wellness journey” after his mother and son died. Their passing worsened his PTSD symptoms.
“I had severe PTSD. And in 2017 I had an entire suitcase full of medicine,” Peck said. “I was highly, highly suicidal.”
Peck’s son, Cory Bruce, died from a fentanyl overdose. Dealers often mix fentanyl with or sell it as heroin, according to the News-Leader. Peck continues to share his son’s story in hopes of stopping others from buying illegal substances.
The military veteran began hiking to deal with his PTSD symptoms.
Hiking helped Peck deal with his PTSD symptoms. He slowly weaned himself “off all those pills”. He also started helping other veterans deal with their issues. The high suicide rate among military personnel and veterans made Peck realize others experienced similar situations as him. He said he wanted to help them before they reached a “breaking point.”
Working with other veterans also helped Peck deal with his own PTSD.
“I started talking about my emotions that were bubbling up inside of me while I was walking and releasing those things,” Peck said. “In other words, even if you’re just talking to yourself in the woods, it doesn’t matter, the talking process itself is causing the release of the energy.”
Peck started a YouTube channel and became a personal trainer. He developed the idea for a 500-mile hike across Colorado.
“I came out here to become free and let things go,” Peck said. “That’s why it’s called the Freedom 500 Hike.”
Peck hasn’t been alone in his travels. He invited fellow military veterans and civilians alike to join him on his route. The veteran began his hike on July 12 and plans to finish it on Oct. 4. Susi Barnes, the widow of a military veteran who died by suicide, will join Peck for the last remainder of his trip.
“I feel free,” Peck said “It’s very quiet here. Sometimes I go a whole day without seeing a human or anything, maybe a moose. It’s really weird being in the mountains. But it’s worked wonders to everybody who’s come so far.”
[H/T: Springfield News-Leader]