Mike Dowens, a Navy veteran, is kicking off a three-day walk from the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans' Memorial in Holmdel, NJ, to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., on June 2, 2016. Dowens suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) stemming from his time serving in Liberia, Somalia and Haiti as a Navy search and rescue swimmer. His goal is to increase awareness about PTSD and raise money through a Go Fund Me campaign to send a veteran in need to The Refuge, a treatment center in Florida where he sought treatment for his own PTSD. The public is welcome to attend the walk kickoff.
Dowens, 37, will begin his walk the morning of June 2 at the Memorial. He will then take a route on walkable roads to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., a total of 237 miles. He will be joined on his walk by another veteran and PTSD sufferer. The two will walk non-stop, pausing only for meals.
After spending four years in the Navy and being honorably discharged in 2006 for asthma he developed while overseas, Dowens felt lost. He felt severe separation from the military and suffered intense symptoms of PTSD for years before he finally sought treatment.
Dowens knows The Refuge, a PTSD and trauma center in Ocklawaha, Florida, saved his life. And now, he knows he wants to give back.
He will begin his journey:
Thursday, June 2 ~ 6:30 a.m.
New Jersey Vietnam Veterans' Memorial
1 Memorial Lane, Holmdel, NJ