Jonny's American adventure is coming to an end...
So I live in a homeless unit called The Beacon on the Catterick garrison back in the UK, and it was there that I heard about the walk. I emailed asking to be part of it, I went through the selection process, had a taster weekend in Norfolk, got selected, went to the press launch… and then flew to LA. And that’s how I’m here.
Whilst all of this was going on, I wasn’t too bothered if I didn’t make the team because I knew there were support positions available. So that was Plan B - if I wasn’t picked for the team, I’d still come out as support crew. But I was selected, and I was buzzing! Because I wasn’t expecting it.
The whole thing has been amazing… at the start, it was so easy to turn around and say: ‘Oh, this was the best bit…that was the best bit’. So many good things have happened and we’ve had so many amazing days, and so many more are going to come when we get up to Washington DC and New York. So I can’t really turn around and pick out an exact favourite moment. It’s just been amazing and I’ve really enjoyed everything. It’s hard to pick out memorable moments because we’ve nearly had one every day. And we’ve been on the road for 84 days!
If I’m being honest, I thought it was going to be a lot harder, physically. I’m quite happy with myself because I didn’t really train for this and I did that for a specific reason. I can now go back to the UK after the walk and say to all those veterans that have come out of the military, who haven’t done anything since leaving, who are sat at home thinking that they’re useless that, I was like you. I did nothing. And I didn’t do anything to train for this, but I still came out here and I’ve done it! So if I can do it, you can do it. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to get up and walk 1,000 miles, but it does mean that you can dedicate yourself to doing something for a long period of time. It’s time really well spent…getting into your head and sorting out your mental health out.
Also, there’s loads of support out there. Actually, I was watching a video on Larry’s phone the other day, and it was a guy who was saying that you don’t have to be severely injured or severely suffering in order to benefit from a non-profit or veteran organisation. You can benefit even if you’re a veteran that’s totally happy with your life. You can benefit because you’re getting involved in something that is helping others. You’re giving someone a person to talk to, or someone to go and play football with.
If I had to go and tell another veteran to go and do something, it would simply be to go and find a non-profit or a veteran organisation and ask if there’s anything that you can get involved with. Ask them if they have any activities going on that you can be a part of. Get around people who are thinking the same way that you’re thinking.
In Houston we had a fundraiser hosted by one of Larry’s friends from the oil industry. There was a room full of people and as we were telling our stories, every single person in that room was locked on. I watch and I look at these things and I notice these things…and the whole room didn’t move, they just listened to us stood in front of them. Houston was massive for everyone, and not only did it introduce us to a group of people who cared, but it also gave us opportunities. They were offering help rather than just wanting to hear our story and go home, and that’s what made it so beneficial, so special.
I’m not excited to complete. Mainly because it means that it’s done, it’s over. Part of me really wants to go back to the UK and get on with things, but part of me is like, I’m going to leave this awesome place, and go back to a homeless veterans’ unit. There is always the chance that I could get stuck back in that same cycle again. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good that it’s coming to an end, because it means that we’ve done it, we’ve achieved the mission! But at the same time, I’m gutted that it’s coming to an end.