Navy Veteran Trekking to End Veteran Homelessness and Suicide Enters Nebraska

Tom Zurhellen (photo courtesy Marist College)
June 12, 2019 - 11:50am

One navy veteran is marching across the country to raise awareness for veteran suicide and homelessness.


Tom Zurhellen of Poughkeepsie, New York began his journey in Oregon on April 15 and has since walked halfway across the country. On Friday, June 14, Zurhellen will cross into Nebraska near Harrison, Nebraska.

Zurhellen is an English professor at Marist College in Poughkeepsie and he’s trekking 22 miles a day to represent the 22 veterans who take their lives each day.

“We often think we’re doing a lot for our veterans, you know ‘thank you for your service’ and all that, but we’re really not if you look deeper,” Zurhellen said.

Zurhellen also leads the local VFW in Poughkeepsie. The Poughkeepsie VFW started VetZero, a service project to help end homelessness and suicide among veterans. He says in that leadership position, he’s learned veteran homelessness doesn’t fit the normal stereotype.

“It’s hardworking people who just had a bad month, had a bad two months," he said. "And what makes it worse for veterans is the transition from military life to civilian life. A lot of times veterans don’t want help, or they don’t feel like they want to ask people for help and that kind of compounds the problem.”

The solution starts with awareness and is aided when veterans receive help from other veterans, according to Zurhellen. His journey is scheduled to end in late August in Poughkeepsie. You can follow Zurhellen’s cross-country trek on VetZero's Facebook page.

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