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!
Today’s March for PTSD position report update comes from Dublin, Virgina. (The fastest growing city in Virginia… the population is dublin’ every day! HA! sorry about that.)
Today was daylight-savings-turn-your-clocks-back-an-hour day… So I wanted to get an earlier start than usual because I didn’t want to get stuck walking in the darkness, which would be coming an hour earlier this evening.
Deputy Officer Queen of the Pulaski County Sheriff’s department knocked on my door bright and early in Max Meadows this morning, ready to pick up my pack and take it to my next hotel… Thanks Deputy Queen! Great job!
I had spoken with the Sheriff’s office dispatcher earlier, and knowing about my quest she asked me the number one most asked question that I hear. “What made you want to do this anyway?”
And for the one millionth time I (gladly) launched into my story about how my friend’s son had suffered with PTSD after returning home from the Iraq war and subsequently killed himself and how I felt I needed to do something more.
This nice lady was so impressed with what I was doing…she said “there are chills running up and down my spine right now! Thank you so much for what you are doing Mr. Ulstrom!” Very nice lady.
Out on the march today I stopped at a scenic overlook called Draper’s Valley which was a quite beautiful place with an interesting story. A plaque at the site tells the tale:
“John Draper’s wife, Bettie Robertson Draper was captured byt the Shawnee at Draper’s Meadows (Blacksburg)in 1755. Mrs. Draper was carried into the Ohio Country along with her sister-in-law, Mary Draper Ingalls and five others. Six years later, John Draper found his wife living in the family of an Indian Chief. After paying for her return, went home to the New River Valley. About 1765 they moved into a log cabin in the area still know as Draper’s Valley, just south and west.”
Moving on, the next point of interest was the nice little town of Pulaski, VA.
Pulaski was named for a famous Revolutionary War hero Count Casimir Pulaksi, who is credited with saving the life of George Washington, and later went on to become a general in the Continental Army.
I was very impressed with the town of Pulaski, very clean and very nice. I was especially impressed with the wonderful Civil War statue in the park…but my final destination lied a few more miles down the road, so I pushed on.
After covering nearly 20 miles I made it to the Dublin city limits and waiting there to welcome me was Corporal Smith of the Pulaski Sheriffs Department. We spoke for a couple minutes and Corporal Smith gave me walking directions to my hotel (darn good thing he did, I would have taken a wrong turn for sure!)
My room for this evening was COMPED by the Holiday Inn Express in Dublin, also many thanks go to Linda at the front desk who was very helpful and supportive of my cause (and she also makes GREAT coffee!) Thank you Linda and the Holiday Inn Express!
Also thanks for the $10 dollar donation from the anonymous donor who slipped an envelope under my door… every little bit helps. All the envelope said on the outside was “from an active duty Air Force guy and his wife.” Well many thanks to you my friends. Your donation means so much, and it will definitely come in handy along the way.
See ‘ya on the road!
Ready for an update?
Current position report: Max Meadow, VA
Yesterday I traveled by bus from Knoxville to Wytheville, in an attempt to speed my arrival into D.C. and hopefully catch some congresspeople before the quickly approaching holiday break.
Today I picked up the march once again and walked from Wytheville to Max Meadows which is about 12 miles.
The weather has taken a decidedly chilly turn, and the forecast was calling for 32 degrees and snow… but luckily I never saw any. I dressed in several layers and had no problem with the cold.
Sheriff Doug King of Wythe County volunteered for the job of moving my pack for me to my next hotel, so many thanks go to Sheriff King!
I experienced mostly flat terrain today, walking on a frontage road next to the interstate… I could see a lot of traffic whizzing by on the highway but there were hardly any cars at all traveling on the part of the road I was on.
I marched my way to Max Meadows, my destination for the evening and (with a wrong turn and a bit of confusion) I found my room at the Gateway Hotel.
The Manager at the Gateway was kind enough to COMP my room this evening an arrange for some supper to be delivered… A HUGE THANK YOU goes to everyone at the the Gateway Hotel who contributed so generously to the March for PTSD!
Tomorrow I’m covering the 20 miles from Max Meadows to Dublin, VA…
Stay tuned, I’ll keep you posted.
See ‘ya on the road!
Greetings from the road!
John Ulstrom here checking in with my daily position report.
Waking up in Eaton Crossroads the morning, I had an appointment to speak to the Marine Corps League, which was held at the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce at 8:00am. Laimon Godel knocked on my hotel door at 7:15am and introduced himself to me, as well as treating me to breakfast at McDonald’s before shuttling me to the meeting.
My speaking engagement in front of the Marine Corps group was brief, a few minutes at best, but I believe I got my message across. I have had more than a few opportunities to go over my PTSD talking points, and I find it pretty easy to communicate my message, whether it’s a to a reporter or a captive audience.
The meeting was a pretty long one, adjourning around 11:00am and soon after I was interviewed by the local Channel 10 NBC News from Knoxville. A very nice reporter from WBIR does a weekly news article about veterans and military issues, and he interviewed me for about 5 or 6 minutes…( 30 seconds of it ended up o the 6:00pm news… oh well…that’s showbiz folks!)
I must take out a moment here and give a BIG THANK YOU to my chauffeur, escort and buddy for the day Laimon Godel. Laimon paid for all my meals, AND shuttled me and my pack to the Marine Corps meeting as well as to my hotel in Knoxville at the Country Inn & Suites.
The room at the hotel was COMPED by the wonderful staff at the Country Inn & Suites in Knoxville and my hat goes off them! Thank you very much!
An interesting turn of events…
Apparently due to the Congressional schedules during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, it is in my best interest to GET TO WASHINGTON D.C. IN A HURRY IF I AM GOING TO GET TO TALK TO ANYONE AT ALL!!
So my team and I have decided, that it would be best if I skip walking for the next 180 miles and catch a bus to Wytheville, VA tomorrow… so that’s what I’m doing. I feel it is the best to way to maximize my chances of catching some important ears when I arrive in Washington D.C.
I have up to this point covered almost 1100 miles on foot… and have been helped by, no… almost carried along by a growing collection of caring and generous Americans who feel the same connection to this PTSD cause as I do… I have met many military, non-military, young, old, families, corporations and individuals who have all contributed in some way to my march and my message. Every little bit helps.
It is somewhat staggering. So many kind and wonderful people so far, and here we are heading into the home stretch. Hopefully the message I carry will resonate in Washington D.C. as it does with myself and my supporters.
Signing off for today…
See ‘ya on the road!
Hello! and welcome to the March for PTSD Walk to Barrack!
Today’s progress and position report: Over fifteen miles covered today, Kingston to Eaton Crossroads, and just 25 miles remain before I arrive in Knoxville.
This morning I was treated to breakfast at Hardee’s by Mike Inman and his lovely wife Suzy, AND they were kind enough to take my pack to my down line hotel…what great people, thanks you guys.
After breakfast but before they took my pack, Mike and Suzy dropped me off at the Kingston city limits and I went to work today.
It was sprinkling rain a little this morning when I left but really didn’t amount to much, and cleared up after a while. No shoulder to walk on, which makes walking a little tougher. I had to scale a few hills which weren’t that steep but they were noticeable…The trees are turning their brilliant autumn colors and I must say, I had a beautiful walk in the countryside today.
I made pretty good time today, about fifteen miles in five hours, arriving in Eaton Crossroads, Tennessee between four and five. Finding my way to my hotel room for the night at the Econolodge, I was able to chat a little with the hotel owner who was kind enough to donate my room this evening.
He stated ” I just wanted to do something to help out the Vet’s a little”… I didn’t get his name but many thanks go to this generous individual.
Tomorrow will start off a little bit differently: I am speaking at a Marine Corp League meeting about PTSD and my march, at 8:00am and they are picking me up at 7:15am… It will be a short presentation, then some coffee and donughts and its off to Knoxville! I’ll fill you in on all the details tomorrow!
See ‘ya on the road!
We meet again!
Thanks so much for tuning in to get an update on my progress!
I’m getting pretty close to Knoxville, Tennessee but bedding down tonight in Kingston.
I got a late start this morning, but there are only about 11 or 12 miles to cover between Rockwood and Kingston, and all went well.
Nice weather again, beautiful terrain, but one drawback… I had to carry my pack for a few hours this morning….ugh that thing weighs a ton! (not really a ton, it’s around 40lbs…)
Mike Inman and John Wolfe who are both from two different local VFW’s stopped by me at some point and relived me of the monkey on my back (whew! thanks a million guys!) and I trodded my way un-encumbered the rest of the way into Kingston.
Once I reached Kingston, Mike and John picked me up and shuttled me a few miles down the road to the Harriman VFW Hall for a little meeting… and boy what an interesting meeting it was. Basically what happened is I had a round table meeting with 3 Vietnam Vets who ALL suffered with PTSD, the very cause I am marching for and trying to raise awareness about.
These guys filled me in, from their first hand accounts, on the root causes of PTSD… in all the bloody and gory details from which I will spare you from now… but these guys were the soldiers on the front line, in an unpopular conflict, living with the horrors of war as it was happening.
These horrors, once the war had been declared over were not forgotten by these honorable warriors… these memories and events haunt these men, in varying degrees to this very day… some 30 some years later. Talking to these gentleman made such a huge impression on me and definitely reaffirmed my belief that more needs to be done.
We are still exposing our youngest and brightest kids to the battlefield and not giving them many tools to deal with the aftermath of psychological difficulties that may arise upon their return to a more “normal” life back home.
I know we can do better.
After that moving conversation at the VFW hall Mike and John generously took me out to eat at local eatery Shoney’s for a fantastic dinner, which we all enjoyed.. I thank you guys very much!
The local VFW in Harriman I belive paid for my room tonight at the Knight’s Inn, for which I am also very grateful.
With a full belly, a roof over my head, and an even better understanding of PTSD, this is John Ulstrom signing off for another day…
See ‘ya on the road!
Hello from the road everybody!
Well, I’m still at it, still hiking across this great country of ours raising awareness about PTSD. Today’s leg was Crossville to Rockwood, about 25 miles, mostly downhill.
I believe the high temperature may have been around 65 degrees today… partly cloudy, but very nice weather.
I woke up in one county and called it a day in another and Sheriff’s from both pitched in a moved my pack for me today. I got to talk with them a little and they all appreciated what I was doing and thanked me… in turn I thanked them for helping me out, every little bit helps.
I made my way to Rockwood without incident and checked into my hotel… I was interviewed by a reporter from the local newspaper… and that’s about all I have to report today….
I know it’s kind of a boring post… not much happened today I guess, I’ll try and spice things up for ya a little bit more tomorrow!
See ‘ya on the road!
Hello again family and friends!
Welcome to the next episode of the March for PTSD Walk to Barrack!
It was a fairly uneventful day… but let me run through the basics and get all my thanks you’s in order…
I had a quick bite to eat before I left the hotel (most of the hotels have a simple breakfast bar in the morning… just what I need before I hit the road!)
A few small and un-challenging hills today…(I am still atop the plateau I mentioned yesterday) and the weather was sunny but cool, no wind… very chilly in the early morning but I was able to change into a short sleeve shirt by about 11:00.
Nathan Walker who is the General Manager of the Super 8 Hotel I stayed at last night drove my pack (again!) to Crossville for me…what a nice fellow and I thank you so much Nathan!
I stopped at a gas station for lunch this afternoon and they had some homemade bbq pork in a crock pot served on hamburger buns… Boy I’m starting to think people BBQ more here in Tennessee than they do at home in Texas!
Somewhere around 25 miles later I wound up in Crossville. My room for this evening at the Holiday Inn Express was “comped” by the Holiday Inn management… a huge March for PTSD THANK YOU goes to the Holiday INN!
I wanted to take a moment (since election day is coming up on us quickly) and mention Patty Murray, a senator from Washington state who has an excellent track record when working with Veteran issues and supporting Veteran groups (including Our Forgotten Warriors) in her state. If you live in Washington and are concerned about Veteran issues, please consider Patty Murray for re-election.
Tomorrow it looks like Crossville to Rockwood is about 24-25 miles… and I think I’ll have my pack for the first seven miles then I’ll hook up with the sheriff from the next county over and he will take it the rest of the way…sooo
See ‘ya on the road!
Hello from the road everyone!
Today’s report comes to you from Monterey, Tennessee.
Cookeville to Monterey was a TOUGH uphill climb… (and I was just bragging yesterday about being in such good shape…this hill WORE ME OUT!)
But I made it… I was told that Monterey was at the top of a flat platueu that it will slope down again two cities from here in Rockwood. So I’ve got that going for me.
I took a few pictures while I was hiking today… what nice scenery in these parts, all in all a very pretty walk today.
Nathan Walker, the General Manager of the Super 8 Motel in Monterey graciously drove over to Cookeville and picked up my pack for me and shuttled it back to the Super 8 where I was staying this evening… Super 8 donated my room tonight, thanks very much guys!
I also had the great pleasure to meet “Uncle Hoss” who own’s Uncle Hoss BBQ here in town… he brought me a FANTASTIC dinner…1/2 a rack of ribs, beans, sides, cheesecake….YUM! Thank you Uncle Hoss…BIG TIME! Wow that was good.
As I chowed down on Uncle Hosses delicious dinner out in the common area of the hotel lobby I was interviewed by Dale Welch, owner of the local newspaper… I posed for pics even though I probably had BBQ sauce smeared all over my face (and I think Uncle Hoss and Nathan got in on the pictures also!)
Thanks again to everyone in Monterey!
Next couple cities down the line for me: Crossville and then Rockwood.
See ‘ya on the road!
Greetings again march friends!
Today’s report comes from Cookeville, Tennesse home of Tennessee Tech University.
This morning’s breakfast back at the Carthage McDonald’s was a little bit crowded…(Ha! the more the merrier!) I was joined by the Mayor of Smith County Michael Nesbitt, and retired Navy submariner Bob Barker, and of course my newest friend I’ve met on here on the road… Gus Rich who was also shuttling my pack (again!? Thanks Gus!).
(Also joining us was for breakfast was the Hamburgler, Mayor McCheese, Ronald and the whole McDonald’s gang! Ha! just kidding of course…)
The weather was sunny and nice today, a bank temperature sign I passed this afternoon read 52 degrees so it’s not overly warm anymore. Actually I hear they are calling for a hard freeze this evening. So I’m having to wear long pants and long sleeved shirts during the day now, as winter is slowly creeping in.
I passed a lot of beautiful scenery today, colorful landscapes, and nice family farms. The trees are beginning to turn colors a little bit and drop their leaves and I’m passing over a few rolling hills… surprisingly, the rises are not causing me any extra effort…maybe all this walking has whipped this old sailor into shape a little bit.
Wll, I wandered my way into Cookeville around 2:00pm and Gus Rich and his lovely wife treated me to a late lunch… What can I say guys…Gus you have been such a huge help to me and my cause over the past few days… I thank you and your wife wholeheartedly.
My room this evening at the Cookeville Super 8 was donated by John Rutledge of Our Forgotten Warriors… Thanks John! Additionally the American Legion wrote me a check for $50…That keeps me goin’ for another day and as always, every little bit helps… many thanks to OFW and the the Cookeville AL for their generosity towards the March for PTSD!
Looks like its on to Monterey, Tennessee tomorrow…
See ‘ya on the road!