PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - One year ago, we were with Cpl. Adam Shatarsky as he began walking from Palm Springs to Washington D.C., taking only a backpack with survival and camping supplies. The Wounded Walk is meant to raise awareness and money for veterans coming home with mental and physical wounds.
Shatarsky burned through eight pairs of shoes and sweat through a small supply of clothes. He and his walking partner ate dry ramen to thwart hunger. It was a "one and done" deal, he says, until it was over.
"Once we finished," Shatarsky said, "the outpouring of support and love that we kept receiving... It was a no-brainer to keep on going."
The Wounded Walk is now a non-profit organization with sponsors and an RV. The walking shoes are back on.
Cpl. Ross Delafield and childhood friend Jeremy Lee are joining Shatarsky for "Mission Mojave". While Lee drives the support RV, the two marines will walk for 30 days and 300 miles in deadly heat to Phoenix, Arizona.
"We're out there on the road, blowing holes in our feet, melting shoes, hurting our backs, we're the ones doing it," Shatarsky says,"That's what makes us different."
Focusing on the physical wounds is equally as important as the mental wounds, says Delafield. "Physical wounds are extremely traumatic and we have a soft spot in our hearts for men and women who have been wounded, but the mental aspect is something that's hard to understand, so it doesn't get a lot of attention.
Transitioning into civilian life is not always easy. They understand and want other veterans to know they're not alone.
"It's a really hard process to wrap your head around," Shatarsky expressed. "What do I do? Where do I go? Depression sets in."
"We are guys who have been active duty military in infantry batallions and we know what it's like to come home and feel a little discombobulated or lost, not knowing what to do," says Delafield, "and this set us both on a positive path."
The Wounded Walkers say anything to support them is greatly appreciated -- whether it's a honk, wave or donation.
- Follow the Wounded Walk on Facebook or on their website
- Follow Samantha Cortese on Facebook and Twitter