dwain walden.tif

I’ve often wondered why it is that to create awareness of issues some people go to various and even bizarre extremes in that process. I’m not saying it’s not effective, I just wonder why it’s necessary.

I’ve seen people shave their heads for this purpose. I’ve seen them eat worms. I’ve seen them perch in tiny huts on top of utility poles for days.  I met one man who drove a mule team across America for a cause.

This all comes to mind today as I read a story about Christopher Davis who soon will begin a 2,185 mile journey down the Appalachian Trail to raise awareness and funds for the Goodwill Manasota American Veterans and Their Families Initiative.  The acronym for that would be GMAVTFI. That doesn’t spell anything unless you’re a cab driver in Chicago, so I’m guessing no one gave it much thought.

He said he promised himself when he was serving in Afghanistan that if he lived he would do this. So I thank him for his service. I admire his dedication to this project. And I wish him great success.

 He’s a 14-year highly decorated veteran. He plans to walk from Maine to Georgia in his bid to help veterans navigate the confusing array of programs available to them as they return to civilian life. That’s so hard to imagine ... government programs that are confusing.

One would think that our national leaders, elected and appointed, would take care of this matter — that such feats of endurance would not be required to call this to their attention or to make our nation aware that the problem exists. It would seem that testimony from those who are frustrated and neglected would suffice.

 I think the plight of warriors returning from these quagmires has been well established. We even have that poster child instance a few years back  — Walter Reed Hospital —  just down the street from our nation’s capital that  was revealed to be atrocious in its services to our vets.

Oh well, it is what it is.

Maybe it’s not all the fault of the leaders. Maybe the followers — that would be us — are much of the problem as well. Perhaps we expect, maybe even demand, some drama of sorts to get our juices flowing and get us inspired to support a cause. Could it be some right of passage syndrome that must be employed to prime the conscience?

I’ve often wondered how the story might be different if John Wayne had made a movie about the plight of our veterans after they return from war.

From the story I read, it seems Davis was planning to hike the trail anyway, and he decided to combine the energies — a two- birds-with-one-stone concept.

I’ve never aspired to walk the Appalachian Trail. It’s not on my bucket list. But if it was, it would be somewhere above hang gliding and bungee jumping.

I think I would do okay on the trail. I’ve watched many hours of survival shows. I’ve learned many survival skills such as building fish traps, building shelter, finding various forms of nourishment and building friction fires with sticks.

Of course those skills are for worst-case scenarios. I would start out with a pack full of Beenie Weenies, a half dozen Zippo lighters, an assortment of cutting tools, a cell phone, maps, and other essentials that have been marketed since Daniel Boone first ate wild honey.

I don’t know the details of just how Davis will use the trek to call attention to this initiative. I don’t know if he plans news conferences along the way, if he will challenge lawmakers to join him or if there will be a live feed to Good Morning America with regular commentary from George Snuffleluffugus.

Again, I wish this man great success.

(Email: dwain.walden@gaflnews.com)

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