The Conversation: Hiking Across America

Iraq War veteran Troy Yocum hikes across the country raising money for veterans.

Oct. 12, 2010 — -- Troy Yocum is not your average fundraiser. While raising money for war veterans Yocum has had to deal with angry snakes, angry swans and his own very angry feet.

And it is all because Yocum isn't just asking people for money from the comfort of home: He is asking people for money while walking 7,000 miles round-trip across the country.

This 31-year-old Iraq War veteran came up with this plan while stationed in Kuwait in 2009. He was trying to find an organization to help a fellow soldier and friend who had fallen on hard times upon returning home from the war. Yocum found that in these difficult economic times even less help was available to returning soldiers, many of whom were out of work and struggling with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

So Yocum decided he would walk across the country to bring awareness to veterans' needs while also raising money through the organization Soldiers Angels.

Today this Kentucky native took a quick break before embarking on his daily 20 miles of hiking to chat with another Kentucky native, Diane Sawyer.

Yocum is in the sixth month of his journey and told Sawyer that he had already walked 2,800 miles. He began the journey in Kentucky, then headed north to the Midwest. From there Yocum headed west, over the Rocky Mountains, and expects to make it to San Diego by Veteran's Day.

Yocum has already raised $80,000 for Soldiers Angels and has gained tens of thousands of online followers who chart his journey and even walk with him when he passes through their towns.

Yocum told Sawyer he is in no way daunted by the length of this endeavor. He is not expected to make it back to Kentucky until Sept. 11, 2011.

Luckily for Yocum, he has the perfect travel companion for this long-term adventure, his new wife, Marieke. Yocum proposed to Marieke while they were still walking the initial leg in Kentucky. They got married shortly after and embarked on the hike together.

Yocum also introduced Sawyer to his other travel buddy, his dog Emmie, who has walked nearly 1,700 of the miles right along Yocum's side.

Check out today's Conversation to learn more about Yocum's journey and where he is headed next.

To learn more about Troy's hike or donate to Soldiers Angels, click here.

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