If you think carrying a 35-pound rucksack on a 26-mile hike is a piece of cake, Tom Nash wants a word with you.
“It breaks your body down,” Nash said.
Nash should know. He was one of 12 who walked Saturday with a heavy rucksack from River Street in Savannah to Richmond Hill to raise money and awareness for military veterans and their families who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Nash said the walkers, three of whom were active-duty soldiers from Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield, carry the rucksacks to better understand the physical pain and mental anguish veterans feel after serving in difficult and often life-threatening conditions.
The group ended their daylong, 26-mile trek at Flashback, a bar on Ford Avenue.
Nash and the others are members of a group called “Carry the Fallen.”
“Carry the Fallen is a nationwide effort as part of a larger organization called ‘Active Heroes’ to raise awareness and funds to support those who suffer from PTSD. It is also done to raise awareness of a growing problem — that of military suicides,” he said.
Nash said since January 2014, more than 1,800 military members have committed suicide.
“It’s a large problem that many people aren’t aware of. We need to raise awareness as a first step to finding a solution,” he said.
Nash and his group raised $941 dollars Saturday toward those efforts.
“We had someone stop us on the road and donate some money,” he said.
The money raised Saturday, Nash said, will be used to help establish a nationwide retreat in Shepeherdsville, Ky., that will host those heroes and family members dealing with the day-to-day anguish of living with PTSD and the loss of a loved one through suicide.
“There are 671 other Carry the Fallen teams across the United States also holding rucksack walks to raise money for the Kentucky retreat,” Nash said.
“We’ve raised enough money to pay for the 144-acres of land for the retreat and get the roads started. It will be an outdoor retreat area. Families can come and heal through nature and the outdoors. Eventually, there will be a welcome center, with a media room and other buildings.”
The facility will be called “Active Heroes Retreat and Nature Park,” he said.
Nash said Richmond Hill businesses, like Flashback, have been quick to support the military and fundraising for the Kentucky retreat.
“We do everything we can to support our military people,” said Flashback owner Jim Castiglione.
Those looking to donate to the “Active Heroes” Kentucky retreat can reach Tom Nash at 417-350-5810.
The website for “Active Heroes” is activeheroes.org.