Appearing in the Congressional Record in December 2010; Volume 156 and introduced by Congressman Dennis Kucinich.
Greetings to everyone!
I have said this many times and I still feel it is 100% accurate… I could NOT have accomplished what I have with the March for PTSD without the help and resources of soooo many generous people.
For instance, my backpack was donated, my shoes were donated, my website was donated, many of my meals and most of my hotels were donated, and my airline ticket home was donated… this was the theme my entire route.
When I originally set out I thought I might be camping-out a lot and basically paying my own way to D.C. On the contrary, I was treated like a celebrity in many cities, and thankfully I ended up only spending one night in my tent.
A couple of special thank you’s are in order:
My cousin David Lowell Arbogast was a huge help. He initially began to spread the word about my undertaking, and he also arranged for me to stay at his with his friends in Washington D.C., Gary and Mary Shaffer. Also, David’s son David Lee works for one of the big airlines, and he was able to donate a buddy pass for me to fly home. Thanks guys!
The Shaffers were truly wonderful hosts while I was in the D.C. area, and many thanks go to both Gary and Mary Ann.
Bill Moorland, of Honey Grove, TX went out of his way to arrange a meeting between myself and Congressman Ralph Hall and he certainly deserves thanks.
Kelly Arbogast is the guy responsible for this website, and I called him nearly everyday with my updates from the road… Thanks go to Kelly for all his input and support along the way!
I have tried to compile a list here of everyone that helped me out along the March for PTSD… and I apologize if I missed anyone…
Before Sept 16
Quality Printing located in Stephenville, TX
Phil and Rosanne Freeman, Akron, OH
Dean and Barbara Matlack, Florida
Tim and Debbie Martin, Desdemona, TX
Neal Pack, Desdemona, TX
Reporter Micha More, Reporter for the Stephenville Empire Tribune
Will Seltzer, Marine
Springtown, TX Fire Department
Rhonda and Bill McRae
The Chicken Express
Springtown Chamber of Commerce
Howard, Ginger and Bucky Ferris
Decatur Fire Chief Mike Richardson
Mayor Joe Lambert, Decatur TX
James Hayes Whitesboro, TX
Travis Stevens, Patriot Guard
Spanky Livingston, Patriot Guard
James (?) Patriot Guard
Sherman TX American Legion Post
Dr. John Galewaler
KXII Channel 12 Sherman, TX
Maddie Garret, Reporter
Richard Tanner, Partiot Guard
Lloyd and Nina Nicholson
Bill and Freida Moreland
Clarksville Chamber of Commerce
Courthouse Inn B&B
Perry and Cheryl O’Brien
KTSS TV Hope AR
Hope Chamber of Commerce
The Hope Star
Stephanie Harris Smith
Sheriff Jerry Crane
Mr. James Maddi
VFW Post 8671 Prescott, AR
Grant County Sheriff Robert Shepard
White Hall Police Department
Pastor Richie Malone
Sheriff Bobby May, St. Francis County AR
VFW, Shell Lake, AR
Travel Centers of America
Ron Zaleski and his wife Valeria Moran
Travel Centers of America
James Maddi, Regional Manger of TA
Memphis Chamber of Commerce
Mike Richardson, Decatur, TX Fire Chief
David Ward, Mayor of Mason, TN
Paul and Nancy Hazelrig
Mason, TN Police Department
Haywood County Sheriff’s Department
Joe Ing, Brownsville TN Chamber of Commerce
Brownsville, TN Chamber of Commerce
Joe Ing, Brownsville TN Chamber of Commerce
Charles Love, Marine Corps League
Humbolt, TN Veteran’s Home
Humboldt Chamber of COmmerce
Steve and Luwana Belcher
Camden Waste Management
Dennis and Lisa Richardson, owners of the Camden Chronicle
Elks Lodge, Waverly, TN
John Fink, Retired Navy Corpsman Marine and DAV Adjutant
Tennessee Patriot Guard Riders
Dickson Police Department
Dick Smith, owner O’Rourkes Irish Pub, Dickson, TN
DAV AUxillary, WHite Bluff, TN including:
American Legion Nashville
Jackie Dewitt, American Legion Nashville
Phil and Rosanne Freeman of Akron, OH
Jackie Dewitt, American Legion Nashville
City of Juliet TN Economic Board
Steve and Mandy, Mt Juliet, TN
Gus Rich, Cookeville TN American Legion Post Commander
Ramada Inn, Lebanon, TN including Holly Roberts
Michael Nesbitt, Mayor of Smith County TN
Gus Rich, Cookeville TN American Legion Post Commander
John Rutledge of Our Forgotten Warriors
American Legion, Cookville, TN
Nathan Walker, GM Super 8 Motel, Monterey, TN
Holiday Inn Express, Crossville, TN
Roane County Sherrif’s Department
Cumberland County Sherrif’s Department
Mike Inman and John Wolfe
Harriman, TN VFW
Mike and Suzy Inman
Econolodge, Eaton Crossroads, TN
The Marine Corps League, Knoxville
WBIR, Channel 10 Knoxville
Country Inn & Suites, Knoxville
Sheriff Doug King of Wythe County VA
Gateway Hotel, Max Meadows, VA
Deputy Officer Queen of the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department
Holiday Inn Express in Dublin including Linda at the front desk
Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department
Fred, owner of the Hard Times Cab Company
Comfort Inn, Radford Va
Deputy Cameron Pack of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department
Officer Carpenterarri and Trooper Dayes of the Virginia State Police
Holiday Inn of Lynchburg, VA
Gary and Mary Ann Shaffer
Jeff Abramowitz, assistant to Senator John Cornyn of Texas
Congressman Ralph Hall, District 4, Texas
Congressman Mike Conaway, 11th District, Texas
Senator Bob Corker, Tennessee.
Patrick Day, Legislative Correspondent for Virginia Senator Jim Webb
Christopher Gaspar, Military Legislative Assistant for Virginia Congressman Jim Moran
Brian Garrett, Legislative Assistant for Congressman Adam Smith, of Washington State’s 9th District
Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich and staff including Diala Jadallah
It was wonderful to finally get home.
I feel the walk was somewhat successful but I would have preferred to have better news about my meetings with the lawmakers and their aides.
Maybe the lack of commitment on the part of our political representatives will spur me on to continue working for better care for our troops and Veterans. I believe it will.
I did the walking but I have a long list of people to thank who truly made the experience possible.
Carol Blake and her son Brandon’s organization Our Forgotten Warriors handled all the logistics of room reservations, places to eat and help with my 42 pound backpack. I honestly believe I could not have completed my mission without all the help I received from them.
OFW volunteers John Rutledege and his wife April were simply fantastic in finding me someone to transport my pack and finding me rooms (mostly donated) in which to stay. Thanks also go to John’s law enforcement network which completely saved my back by transporting my pack for me nearly everyday as I traveled through the south.
Rhonda McRae was John’s predecessor and she too did a Herculean job of finding rooms and transporters.
There were numerous individuals, organizations and corporations that contributed so much to the success of the walk, and I will compile a complete list of EVERYONE who helped in the next post…
So stay tuned!
Hello again to all my friends, family and supporters and of course anyone just tuning in… Welcome!
Today was another day of me beating the pavement in Washington D.C., and continuing my current mission, which is bringing awareness of the PTSD issue to our nations elected leaders. And it was all worth it because I did get some pretty good news today… please read on!
Again I must mention my hosts while I am staying in the D.C. area, they are Gary and Mary Ann Shaffer (who are very nice people, thank you once again for your generosity!)
Somehow the Shaffers’ arranged a meeting for me with two of their local political representatives; Virginia Senator Jim Webb, and Virgina Congressman James Moran. Nice work folks!
Sooo, first thing in the morning I returned to the Capital.
My first stop was Virginia Senator Jim Webbs office and of course Senators are very busy men I understand, and I was not able to speak with Senator directly. I did however speak at length with the Senator’s Legislative Correspondent Patrick Day.
Next it was on to Virginia Congressman Jim Moran’s office, but Congressmen as well as Senators are understandably busy men I know, and I was not able to speak with Congressman Moran directly. Luckily I was able to make my presentation to the Congressman’s Military Legislative Assistant, Christopher Gaspar, and I think he definitely listened to what I had to say.
When I had completed my presentation to Mr. Gaspar, he even asked me what OTHER ISSUES I was concerned about concerning veterans, and I was able to address several other important ideas including veteran homelessness, and the need for family support.
Another quick stop for me today was the office of Congressman Adam Smith, of Washington State’s 9th District. Unfortunately I was not able to speak with the Congressman himself but I was able to connect with his Legislative Assistant, Brian Garrett. I thank Mr. Garrett attentively hearing my presentation.
Next stop: I had no appointment and I am but a former resident of Ohio, so I took a chance and stopped by the office of Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich and they welcomed me.
Even though the Congressman was in a meeting when I arrived, his assistant encouraged me to wait. After about 20 minutes Congressman Kucinich did come out and speak with me for a few minutes and pose for a picture…
But this is the best part, get this… Congressman Kucinich is going have a staff member write a letter documenting what I have done, why I have done it, and HAVE IT READ TO CONGRESS!
And to top that off it will also be ENTERED INTO THE CONGRESSIONAL RECORD!
Wow, this is just amazing… I want to thank Congressman Kucinich, and his whole staff including Diala Jadallah who interviewed me about my March for PTSD and will write the letter that will be read in Congress.
This action by Congressman Kucinich will officially document and set in the official United States Congressional Record my achievement, and my opinion about PTSD, as well as the opinion of the hundreds of supporters that I proudly represent and have been privileged to meet along my way.
This is a such a wonderful gesture by Congressman Kucinich and his entire staff and I am very thankful for their attention to this matter.
Whew… with the hard work done today and with a feeling of accomplishment, I headed out to do a little sightseeing. The weather today in D.C. was rainy and cool, so that meant that the outdoor monuments had hardly any people at them… and the indoor attractions were quite crowded.
I was able to take in quite a few popular Washington D.C. sites including…
- The National Museum of the American Indian
- The National WWII Memorial
- The Vietnam Veterans Memorial
- The Korean War Veterans Memorial
- The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
After sightseeing it was a quick train ride back to Alexandria and the Shaffer’s house to prepare for an early flight back to Desdemona in the morning.
Slowly it is sinking into my head that this is the end of my March for PTSD.
Interestingly enough, by airplane I will cover my 1500 mile route in 2 or 3 hours instead of 2+ months…
But nobody can make a difference by just taking a airplane ride… and that’s what I have attempted to do with the March for PTSD is make a difference. I can now say I have done my best, and at this point I can only hope that I have succeeded in making some kind of change.
I am thankful I will be home for the Thanksgiving holiday, and I am certainly looking forward to being home in Desdemona with my wife, eating some good home cooking and sleeping in my own bed after being on the road for over two months…
Thanks for tuning in and checking up on me my friends… I’ll let you know when I make it home and safe and sound back to Desdemona, Texas after the completion of this amazing journey.
Hello my friends!
Greetings from the nations capital, Washington D.C.!
I have finally completed my journey from Desdemona to Washington D.C., and now there is just one more thing I need to accomplish before I head back to home Texas.
It’s time to take my message to the lawmakers who are charged with providing funding and care for our returning soldiers.
First off, I would like to thank my hosts while I stay in the in the Washington area, Gary and Mary Ann Schaffer. They were nice enough to open their home to me for as long as I need to stay… thanks guys. You are very generous.
Mary Ann gave me a ride to the local transit station this morning, (they have an above/below ground rail system here in D.C.) and I caught a train from Alexandria about 7 miles to The Arlington National Cemetery.
From the National Cemetery I walked the symbolic ‘last leg’ of the March for PTSD, about 3 miles to The White House (unfortunately it was in the rain, ! I hope that’s not a bad sign.)
My first scheduled meeting was with supposed to be with Retired U.S. Army General and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. Unfortunately I believe that meeting fell through because of a Medal of Honor ceremony…
Next I was to meet with Senator John Cornyn, a senator from my home state of Texas. But again, I was unable to meet with my target. I was able to speak with the Senator’s assistant and Army Reservist, Mr. Jeff Abramowitz and I feel he was very receptive to my ideas about PTSD and increased treatment.
Moving on, it was off to visit with Congressman Ralph Hall, District 4 from my own state of Texas. This time I successfully made it in to speak with the Congressman (who incidentally is 87 years old!), and along with a photo op, I was able to speak to him for a few minutes. He was quick to share some of his experiences in WWII with me, and I shared with the Congressman how we need an increase in medical workers at the VA and again the need for a brighter spotlight on PTSD.
Another brief meeting came with Texas Congressman Mike Conaway, 11th District. I quickly shared my presentation, and I believe the Congressman was truly sympathetic… I am finding some open doors in Washington, but I realize this town will not be convinced or changed by just one mans opinion, it’s going to take many of us if we are to make a difference.
Next on my list was Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee. His office had tried to contact me while I was walking through the Tennessee countryside during a lightning storm, and a connection was never made. I contacted his office and was told I could meet with Senator Corker immediately and I was afforded a few minutes to go over my presentation with the Senator.
I also stopped by the office of Senator Patty Murray of Washington State to congratulate her on her recent victory, she has a reputation of being very fair on Veterans issues. Unfortunately Senator Murray was out of the office but I was able to speak with one of her aids at length.
Whew… that was a lot of work… I think it was easier walking 20 miles a day than it is being a Washington lobbyist.
Today was capped off with a wonderful dinner with Carol Blake, CEO and Brandon Gauvreau, Founder of Our Forgotten Warriors at Carols’ son Anthony’s home in Alexandria. I shared many of my ‘tales from the road’ and I was able to catch up on the details of the OFW organization. Most importantly I was able to share my gratitude and give thanks for the incredible amount of support I received from Carol and the whole gang at OFW.
Tomorrow if I am unable to rustle up any more appointments, I plan on doing a little sightseeing while I’m in the Capital and then prepare for my plane trip back to Desdemona.
In closing I’ll share this with you. When I was asked if everything had turned out as I expected, after a moments pause I replied…
“It turned out much like I expected… but I had hoped for a little bit better.”
I know I shouldn’t be disappointed, as they say ‘every little bit helps’, and I have given my little bit.
I have been blessed with a safe journey, and I have accomplished what I have set out to do. I have been aided along the way by generous group of supporters, all united in the spirit of supporting and honoring our returning veterans.
In D.C. I realize I made but a small impact on our lawmakers… but I am grateful to those who did take the time to listen to my ideas and I am very proud to live in a country where the citizens are free and able to have a dialogue with their elected leaders.
Hopefully my contribution in the end was to raise awareness about the need for increased support for PTSD related Veterans programs. I was hoping to create a stir on both on a public grass roots level and also at the political level and I think I accomplished both to the very best of my ability, although there is so much more that needs to be done.
Many, many thanks for everyone’s prayers, hospitality, and kind wishes along the way. I don’t think I could have accomplished what I have without all the support I received from all the kind and generous people I have met during this journey.
And hello again to all my faithful readers, thanks for tuning in to today’s update!
Well, I’m getting so-much closer to my destination every day folks and I have been making good time on my trek to D.C. so far BUT…
From what I hear, this coming week is basically going to be my LAST CHANCE to meet with anyone of any importance in Washington D.C. before the coming holiday season break.
So I have decided that I need to high-tail-it to D.C. as fast as possible if I am going to maximize my impact there. I already have a full slate of meetings scheduled on Tuesday the 16th (Yikes! that’s only 3 days away!) so I’m gonna hop on a bus this coming Monday.
I’m going Greyhound 167 miles from Lynchburg, VA to Springfield which is located just about 14 or 15 miles outside Washington D.C. I have a place to stay for as long as I need it when I arrive in Springfield, and I am planning on staying in Washington as long as there are lawmakers there willing to speak with me.
I did march myself from Timberlake into Lynchburg today (hauling my pack myself, I might add) but it was a pretty short hike, only a couple of hours of walking.
The Holiday Inn of Lynchburg is to be credited tonight and gets a HUGE MARCH FOR PTSD THANK YOU for donating a room for TWO nights! Wow that’s great… Now I can take a day off, relax and collect my thoughts before I board the bus and make my final move on Washington D.C.
I have a couple of old Navy buddies that hail from Lynchburg that I haven’t seen since I was in the Navy, and I think I’m going to try and look them up tomorrow while I’m here in town. I am also going to take a few minutes to hone the presentation I will be taking to Washington D.C., as well as get some rest and catch some football.
Sounds like a busy day off to me! I must say thank you for everyone’s support so-far, I am very close to my goal now of being able to represent my views on PTSD in Washington D.C. IN PERSON… I will also be representing Joe and Karomie Vitalec, as well as every one of our returning Veterans, and all the supporters I have met along the way!
Thank you kindly for each and everyone’s generosity, I have received so many donations and met so many truly nice people “on the road”. I really don’t believe I could have made it this far without all the help I have received along the way. As I like to say “every little bit helps.” Thanks again for any little part you may have played in this undertaking.
Concerned about the PTSD epidemic, representing the people, and supporting the troops… this is
Okay people, thanks for tuning in again!
Today’s daily dose of the March for PTSD comes to you from Timberlake, Virginia.
I have moved today from Bedford, VA to Timberlake, which is about 16 miles. (note: 1200 miles covered on foot so far…)
This morning I had the pleasure of meeting 1st Sgt Bailey of the Virginia State Police who volunteered to move my pack down-line to Timberlake. Many thanks, many thanks.
I set off walking for a couple of hours and lo and behold who pulls up beside me while I’m walking but 1st Sgt Bailey!
He shouts out the window, “Hey are you hungry?”
and I replied “Heck yeah, I could always eat!”
…and with that 1st Sgt. Bailey treated me to lunch on the road, what a nice and friendly guy. I learned a little about him, he’s got 23 years on the force and he’s putting two daughters through college… whew! that sounds tougher that walking halfway across the country! Many thanks to generous 1st Sgt Bailey.
I’m staying tonight at the Timberlake motel via an anonymous donation… I don’t know who – but if you are reading this and even if you are not… thank you for your generosity, it is much appreciated And so the march goes on.
Talk to you tomorrow from Lynchburg, Virginia.
See ‘ya on the road!
Happy Veteran’s Day and welcome to the March for PTSD!
During my journey I have had the grand opportunity to meet many, many veterans, and being a vet myself I do want to take a moment here to say THANK YOU to all those who have worn a uniform and taken an oath to protect our great country.
This is an important day for another reason…I would like to thank my WONDERFUL and VERY UNDERSTANDING wife and wish her a HAPPY 25th Wedding Anniversary, I’m looking forward to another 25 years. 🙂
The Virginia State Police pitched in today to help me move my pack once again. Two different gentlemen, Officer Carpenterarri and Trooper Dayes carried out the duties, and I am in debt to your service, thanks guys… that helps me a lot.
Not too much to tell… it was kind of a slow day as far as “news from the road goes”… I’m still in the Blueridge Mountains but only small manageable rises challenge my path. I saw quite a few small acreage farms and rural properties as I wandered through the Virginia countryside today.
Starting in Salem, VA this morning and ending this afternoon Bedford, I reunited with my pack at the local Super 8 hotel…(thanks again officers!)
I had to pay for my own room tonight but that’s okay at least they gave me a decent discount! You can’t win ’em all and every little bit helps… quoting two sometimes overused cliches.
I’m closing in on D.C. it won’t be long now folks!
See ‘ya on the road!
Hello my friends, and thanks for checking up on me!
Today I am writing to you from Salem, Virginia which is very close to Roanoke and about 240 miles from my final destination, Washington D.C.
First off, happy birthday goes to the United Marine Corps… they are celebrating their 235th birthday today.
Today also marks the 35th anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund-Fitzgerald, a ship that I served on briefly in 1965 and again in 1971.
Read more on Wikipedia
The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Gordon Lightfoot
Many thanks go to Deputy Sheriff and Navy Vet, Cameron Pack of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s department, for moving my pack for me to my downline destination. Did you catch that? Deputy Pack had my pack? Anyway, thank you very much for your help today Deputy Pack!
I received an interesting call while I was walking today from someone I met back in September, Bill Mooreland of Honey Grove, Texas. Bill called to tell me that he recently had a conversation with Texas Congressman, Raph Hall and Bill had informed the Congressman about what I was up to.
After hearing about me and the march for PTSD the Congressman replied,
“Have John come on down to my office and see me when he gets to D.C.”
…and that EXACTLY what I plan to do. Thanks Bill great work!
What Bill did is just what I need right now. In fact, RIGHT NOW would be a great time to contact your own representatives in Washington D.C. on my behalf and let them know about the March for PTSD and possibly request a brief meeting. I will be arriving in Washington D.C. on the 15th and most likely staying a week. I am hoping to talk to as many politicians and representatives as I possibly can while I am there.
There is not to much to tell on the march route today… one foot in front of the other, mile after mile steadily fell behind me until I eventually wound up in Salem, Virginia completing yet another leg of my journey to D.C.
I found my way to my hotel room at the Green Hill Inn, cleaned up a little and set back out on foot towards a Chinese buffet I spied on my way into town.
My stroll was briefly interrupted by local newspaper reporter Meg Hibbert, who called and caught me on the side of the road. Meg interviewed me for a few minutes and snapped a few photos of me in my natural environment… (you know, the side of the road of course.)
I made it to the restaurant and had a great dinner, but you’ll never guess what my fortune cookie said when I was done eating…
It read, “The journey of a thousand miles begin with a single step.”
Now who could argue with that? I sure wouldn’t. Stay tuned folks…
See ‘ya on the road!
Hello from the road march fans!
Today I’m filing my report from Radford, Virgina.
I will be covering two days in one post here… so I will start with yesterday. Dublin to Radford was largely uneventful…
The Pulaski County Sheriff’s department moved my pack for me (which is so helpful and makes my task so much easier!) Thank you so much officers!
The road to Radford seemed to be one 15 mile long uphill grade… and after a couple hours I was feeling it.
I eventually pushed into Radford and was welcomed at the Comfort Inn with a COMPED room for TWO DAYS! THANK YOU COMFORT INN! That means a day off for me to rest up before the final push into D.C.
I enjoyed a fantastic dinner at the Little River Grill, (Wow! What a great grilled ham and cheese sandwich!) and called it a night…
I am certainly grateful to have a day off but I wanted to stay focused on my mission to a certain extent so I decided to take a cab down to the local library and do some research on PTSD.
Using the library computer I found a lot of interesting treatment information regarding PTSD on the Department of Veterans Affairs Website. You can check it out here if you are interested in learning more.
My cab driver Fred, who I had the pleasure of getting to know a little bit today, is the owner of the Hard Times Cab Company. Fred and I went out to a late lunch after my trip to the library (again to the Little River Grill.) We had a fantastic supper to top off my relaxing day off in Radford.
Tomorrow I will be moving up towards Salem, Virgina…. so stay tuned folks, we’re getting closer to Washington, D.C.!
See ‘ya on the road!