(WKBN) – The phrase “going for a walk” has taken on a new meaning. One man is walking all the way from Massachusetts to California for a cause he believes in. Tuesday, he passed through the Valley.
William Shuttleworth served in the United States Air Force. He believes veterans around the country need more resources and care.
“All the freedoms that we have in this country are often the results of incredible service by veterans… we can’t let that die,” he said.
His plan is to raise awareness by traveling from his hometown of Newburyport Massachusetts to Vanderberg AFB, California, by foot.
“Since I walk 20 miles a day anyway, why not walk in a straight line across this country to California and engage as many people as I can in a thoughtful discussion and build a coalition, coast-to-coast, to support the veterans’ benefits,” Shuttleworth said.
He carries everything he needs in a backpack.
“It’s amazing how little you really need in life, to live a simple life and if people recognize that they could share some of their gifts with the veterans and those in need, we’ll all be better off,” he said.
He uses walking sticks, drinks plenty of water and must eat continuously. Every so often he stops to buy new shoes. He says he doesn’t listen to music while walking, but instead he reflects on conversations and the purpose behind his journey.
“I’m usually on the road by 5 o’clock in the morning. I walk until I thankfully walk into a diner. I have breakfast and meet as many people as I can… and then I continue walking and my day ends sometime around 7 o’clock, so I walk between 12-15 hours everyday,” he said.
As he walks, he stops and speaks with people. He talks with them about his cause and hopes some may even contribute.
He says money raised on his website, vetsdontforgetvets.com, will go to the Disabled American Veterans Association.
He has already raised $35,000 since he started walking on May 15. His goal is $100,000.
Shuttleworth has five goals he hopes will be accomplished.
- Elect a vet. At the national, state and local level.
- Eliminate veteran homeless by 2030.
- Free medical care for any veteran who was ever drafted and was discharged with an Honorable Discharge.
- Guarantee medical and mental health treatment within 30 days for all veterans
- Increase starting pay for enlistees to a ‘livable wage’.
He also feels the government should be doing more and hopes his journey will reach its ears.
“I believe that if you ever served in the military anytime you are deserving the same lifetime medical benefits that a member of congress has if they have served two years,” he said.
He is walking roughly 31 miles per day and said he hopes to arrive at his destination by late October.
But until then, if you see him walking along the road, you can stop and say hello.