Veteran on cross country trip to raise awareness of veteran suicides stops in Cedar Rapids
When Eli Smith pulled up to the Veterans Of Foreign Wars Post 788, he had just completed his bike ride from Minneapolis to Cedar Rapids. Smith is on a cross country trip that started on foot and continues via bike to raise awareness surrounding the issue of veteran's suicides caused by PTSD. His goal is to reach all four corners of the United States likely totaling a trip over 16000 miles.
"I lost a couple of guys I served with to suicide to PTSD and it didn't go over well," Smith said. "The more awareness there is for something, the less of an embarrassment it is for someone to come out and seek help."
His journey started on foot in Florida and will eventually conclude in Florida but on his bicycle. Because he had trouble with his knees, he made the decision to load up a bike that can carry up to 400 pounds and normally loads out at around 200 when he rides. He has taken on several records including most miles traveled on an Electric bike. When He reaches Burlington, Iowa he will have completed 10000 miles on his trip and in every community, just thinking about the issue can make a difference.
"They see that in their local communities then they don't necessarily have to see me, they just see the local community supporting it and say suicide is not the answer," Smith said.
His stop in Cedar Rapids, much more than just thinking. The VFW Post 788 presented Eli with a check over $5000 to help his cause and hosted him inside their hall.
"It's really an honor," Gary Dusi, the post's Commander said. "$5000 is a lot of money that goes a long ways in assisting those suffering with PTSD."
If you are interested in following Eli along or would like to donate you can head to his Facebook page.