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St. Charles veteran goes on 250-mile hike to raise PTSD awareness

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ST. CHARLES, MO (KTVI) – A St. Charles-based Army veteran hiked 250 miles on foot to raise awareness for a serious disorder affecting many of our men and women who’ve served on the front lines.

With his four-month-old dog Bella in tow, Matt Penberthy had a mission to accomplish.

That mission would take four weeks. With the help of the Jared Burke Foundation, a foundation that takes disabled, disadvantaged individuals and disabled veterans on outdoor experiences, Penberthy set off on foot on March 10.

Carrying an American flag that was flown overseas in B-1 Bomber, Penberthy, an Army veteran who served in Iraq, covered a total of 250 miles, trekking all the way to northern Arkansas.

"The whole reason we did the hike is to bring awareness to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, alcoholism addiction, and the veteran suicide rate, which was 22 and now it's 23 veterans a day, which is not ok," Penberthy said.

Some of those difficulties hit close to home for Penberthy.

"I've dealt with alcoholism, dealt with stuff that I thought was just me dealing with it," he said.

Penberthy said that his personal experience and post-war struggle was what inspired him to take action that would bring public awareness.

"I don't see this as a disability if that makes sense," he said. "It's that military mentality to take that weakness and turn it around and make it a strength."

Penberthy admitted there were times he almost gave up on the hike.

"But I knew the cause and what I was doing was worth it, as far as continuing on and going through with it," he said. "It's a personal thank you to the veterans, saying ‘thank you’ for what you did."

Penberthy is already onto his next mission. He and his fellow veterans have begun raising money for Combat Veteran Outdoors, a non-profit organization to support the therapeutic needs of veterans.