Veteran Walks 2,800 Miles Across America, Returns Home Via Walkway

By: Marist College

From April through August 2019, Marist College Associate Professor of English and Navy veteran Tommy Zurhellen has been walking across the U.S. to raise awareness of the issues of veteran suicide and homelessness and to raise funds for organizations assisting local veterans. On an average day in America, 22 veterans take their own lives; for this reason, he has walked 22 miles per day.

Zurhellen arrived back in the Hudson Valley on Friday, August 23 and was joined by hundreds as he crossed into Poughkeepsie via the Walkway Over the Hudson. He then proceeded to Marist’s main gate, where he was met by students, alumni, faculty, staff, and members of the community. The campus celebration featured live patriotic music performed by the Marist Band and Singers and remarks from Zurhellen about his cross-country odyssey.

In a recent interview with the Daily Messenger in Canandaigua, New York, Zurhellen reflected on his journey. “I stopped worrying about being sore,” he said. “I wake up sore. I go to bed sore. But every day you want to quit and just go home, you remember the real pain of all those veterans and then it doesn’t feel so bad.”

The ultimate lesson? “One issue we can all agree on,” Zurhellen said. “We can do a better job for our veterans.”

Zurhellen’s journey raised nearly $50,000 for veterans’ organizations in Dutchess County, New York.