Angela Hatton knows the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.
The former Seymour resident has seen how it affected fellow members of the armed forces, and she has seen how it affected her brother, Sean Hatton.
That’s why she decided to do something about it.
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On March 2, Hatton began a 3,117-mile journey across the United States by foot.
“I realized I wanted to do something for my brother, Sean Hatton, and all the veterans who struggle on a daily basis,” Hatton said in a phone interview.
Hatton started an online GoFundMe page, gofundme.com/unitethejourney, and created a Facebook page, Unite the Journey, to help raise money and awareness for soldiers with PTSD.
“I’m doing it for all of the individuals that serve our country and for all of those that can’t physically or mentally do this,” she said.
Currently, Hatton is in Nevada. She said the first leg of the journey has been one of the toughest.
“In California, there are more towns. Now here in Nevada, there are fewer,” she said.
Hatton started her journey in Carson City, California, and began walking with nothing more than a cart of supplies and a backpack to her name.
“I have to tell you, being homeless, carless and jobless, I’m the happiest I’ve been in my life,” she said. “When you can get rid of all of the fat, the noise in your life, you just feel so connected to everything.”
Although the point of the trip is to raise money and awareness, it also is a personal journey. Hatton is traveling across the country alone on U.S. 50, a road in some places called “the loneliest road in America,” with what she referred to as the “loneliest miles” being in Nevada.
“I have to do it for me. I have to be strong and be present. I have to do it for me so I can do it for others,” she said.
The Air Force veteran has had to overcome many difficulties during her travels — sleeping alone along the side of the road and worrying about wildlife. Traffic and the weather present other issues.
While she does not have PTSD, Hatton said there are still times when her mind goes back into fight-or-flight mode.
“Sleeping on the side of the highway, you worry about coyotes, mountain lions, things like that,” she said. “I usually stay in towns at least two nights to catch up on my sleep because I don’t sleep much on the road.”
But Hatton said this also is part of the journey, fighting fear and tension.
“There are times when you’re really scared and on high alert, and you just stop and look around and see God’s country — wild mustangs, snow-capped mountains — and you just feel so small,” she said.
Hatton traveled by train for a small leg of her journey through the Rocky Mountains to the other side before continuing on foot because of the weather and road conditions in the mountains and the dangers that could be associated with the cold, narrow roads with traffic and relative isolation from aid should the need arise.
She stops at Veteran of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts along the journey to teach about PTSD and some of the many other issues affecting veterans and to meet fellow veterans.
“They have nothing but complete gratitude for what I’m doing. I’m not doing it for fame or accolades. I’m doing it for the veterans,” she said. “It’s their gratitude that keeps me going.”
Since she is traveling across the country on U.S. 50, the Seymour native’s journey will take her through Indiana and Seymour.
She plans on stopping for several days in Seymour to visit with friends and family in the area as part of her travels, though she is not yet sure when she will arrive.
In addition, she hopes to connect with the local VFW and American Legion in the area.
“I would love to have a meetup and have people walk through town with me,” she said.
Hatton is unsure when she will get to Indiana because delays are possible. She already has been stopped for several days by a rainstorm; however, Hatton said she believes she will arrive in Seymour sometime in July or August.
In the meantime, Hatton suggests that anyone who would like to find out more about her journey can visit her Facebook page to find out where she is in the United States and what she is doing.
Former Seymour resident and Air Force veteran Angela Hatton is walking across the country to raise money for soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder.
To donate, visit her GoFundMe page, gofundme.com/unitethejourney.
To follow her progress, visit her Facebook page, Unite the Journey.