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Army veteran hiking 13,000 miles to raise awareness on PTSD and suicide

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Army veteran Eli Smith travels the United States to raise awareness for those living with PTSD Army veteran Eli Smith travels the United States to raise awareness for those living with PTSD
EUNICE, La. -

Army veteran Eli Smith is traveling the United States, and he is on a quest to walk 13,000 miles. It's a journey that will take Smith years to accomplish.

Smith is now making his rounds in Acadiana, but there is a deeper meaning and message he wants to get across with his hike. 

Despite the rain Thursday morning in Eunice, Smith hiked on the roads near City Hall. 

Smith is originally from Ohio and began his journey November 22 in Florida. 

The steps are in memory of his fellow service members who have committed suicide. Smith wants to raise awareness about post traumatic stress disorder, widely known as PTSD, and suicide among veterans. It is a topic Smith knows too well. 

"I was tired of seeing my friends kill themselves, in all honesty," Smith said. "It's too many of our veterans that lose their lives."

With a flag attached to his backpack, Smith's trip will take three and half years to complete. He plans to go through all four corners of the United States.

"I sold everything I have," Smith said. "I'm officially homeless, possession-less. Everything I have is in this backpack."

Smith said he travels about twenty to thirty miles per day. "It's going to be hard and be almost impossible, but it's nothing compared to what our veterans with PTSD go through everyday." 

Smith has met fellow veterans and service members along his path. He wants the hike to symbolize support by letting victims of PTSD know that they're not alone. 
 
"The ultimate goal is if I can find out my journey has saved a life of a mother, father or anyone, then absolutely, it will be worth it. 

Smith's next stop is in Lake Charles. To learn more about his hike or to make a donation - click here for more information. 

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