A former U.S. Marine who's been barefoot for 33 years to protest the war in Vietnam has turned it into an awareness forum for modern veterans' post-war care.
Ron Valeski, 55, set out to walk the Appalachian Trail from Maine and expects to reach Georgia by Christmas, the Carlisle (Pa.) Sentinel reported.
The New York resident said it occurred to him his longstanding habit of going shoeless could be used to draw attention to the needs of U.S. soldiers returning from various conflicts overseas, and his "Long Walk Home" campaign was launched.
On Sept. 27, he'll detour to Washington to appear at a news conference with U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., the ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee and a medical doctor.
In a McDermott release, he wrote: "America must stand by our soldiers by ensuring that every soldier has access to post-traumatic stress disorder counseling and services."
Meanwhile, Valeski is continuing his barefoot hike southward with hopes he'll have "just have a little snow to walk through," the newspaper said.