Posted on January 27, 2011 at 5:40 PM
Thursday, Jan 27 at 6:28 PM
An Iraq war veteran is hiking across America to send a message. Troy Yocum, who served with the Army National Guard, is walking across the country to draw attention to the problems facing America's war veterans.
“It all started on April 17, in Louisville, Kentucky," Yocum said. "I then walked north to Chicago, south to St. Louis, west all the way to Santa Monica and then east all the way here to the outside of Austin. So, about 4,700 miles now complete.”
After hearing about the financial and psychological burdens veterans deal with, Yocum wanted to help.That is when he embarked on what he calls his “drum hike.”
“It doesn’t matter how many miles I accomplish, it’s about how many military families that are struggling and we can help,” Yocum said.
Yocum is walking 7,000 miles to raise $5 million. The money will go towards veterans in need. A few companions have been along for the journey, his wife and two dogs.
“I have along with me, my wife. I proposed to her at mile 100 and we got married at mile 256, about two weeks in to the hike,” Yocum said.
Troy’s wife, Mareike, is thrilled to be involved.
“I was so happy to be a part of this and so honored,” Mareike said. “It’s a very emotional trip for me. We meet so many widows and moms that lost their sons or daughters. That’s where I get emotional, because I can only imagine what they’re going through.”
Austin Mayor, Lee Leffingwell, heard about his cause and wanted to honor Troy at Thursday's city council meeting.
“Most of you know that I’m a veteran myself, so I’m all in favor of Troy doing this walk for us. It’s very important for us that we take care of those who have served their country,” Leffingwell said.
There are 3,000 miles left before their final destination in Louisville, Kentucky.
“I got kidney stones in the Colorado mountains and my wife has had the flu several times. There’s always something that knocks us around and tends to be a little more difficult than I ever thought, but I’m so proud of our team, that we just keep going. No matter what obstacle there is, we keep putting one foot in front of the other and I’m going to continue doing that until this thing is finished,” Troy said.
The Yocum’s have raised about $125,000 so far. Donations have been handled through Soldiers Angels. For more information about this initiative, visit www.drumhike.com.