Veteran walks across America to raise awareness

By THOMAS HOWARD,

Newton Fire Department has a special guest tonight, Georgia veteran John Ring as he walks across America to raise awareness for veterans’ issues.

Ring, who serves in the Georgia National Guard 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, started his 2,462-mile journey Oct. 1. He plans to walk from Tybee Island Pier in Georgia to Santa Monica Pier in California to raise awareness for homeless veterans, veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction among veterans, veteran suicide and the many other health problems that plague returning military service men and women.

“Basically, I’m out here focusing on the issues that should be important every single day,” he said. “It’s important. We celebrate Veterans Day once a year, but it should be every day.”

By walking across the country and talking with people along the way, Ring said he hopes to bring awareness to the struggles veterans face and bring back respect for veterans amongst Americans.

“Too often times, you see someone wearing that hat saying they served in Vietnam, and you just want to walk right past them,” he said. “The respect has gone out the window.”

Ring has also partnered with Buddy Watch, Inc., a nonprofit based in Midway, Georgia, which builds tiny homes for homeless veterans. The organization, he said, gives veterans a home and the stability that brings, as well as on-site health care, including mental health care.

Though his initial plan was to complete his journey in 80 days, Ring said he realized focusing too much on the walking would limit his time spent talking with others and bringing awareness to veterans’ issues.

“I’m not talking with people if I’m just worried about walking,” he said. “So, now I threw the time frame out the window, and I’m just going to do it right.”

After his stop in Newton, Ring planned to spend Thursday night in Lake before heading to Jackson. He said his route would take him along I-20 across the state.

To learn more about Ring, visit his gofundme page, http://gofundme.com/f/buddy-watch-walk-pier-to-pier, or follow along with him at wheresjohnring.com. You can also see updates and photos on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat using the handle, @buddywatchwalk.

His Newton County visits were assisted by the local American Legion posts in Decatur and Hickory.