Shuttleworth Proves ‘Vets Don’t Forget Vets’ With Cross-Country Hike

Last year William Shuttleworth was working at a park where veterans were camping. What he saw bothered him greatly.

The then-70-year-old man from Newburyport, Massachusetts served in the U.S. Air Force from 1970 to 1976. He also was an educator for 35 years.

He observed that some of the veterans were homeless. And struggling with addictions. He realized he had to do something about the situation.

Shuttleworth had already served his country. But he knew he needed to raise awareness about the plight of forgotten veterans.

Mental and Physical Health Problems

“I’m particularly concerned about the number of homeless veterans that have mental health issues,” Shuttleworth said.

“And the number of veterans that every day struggle with opioid and alcohol issues.”

So, Shuttleworth decided to put his feet where his mouth was. He has embarked on a 3,000-plus-mile, cross-country walk.

His goal is to reach Vandenberg Air Force Base in Lompoc, California in 7½ months. He wants to raise awareness about the healthcare, housing and economic issues that many veterans face.

No Vacancy? No Problem!

Shuttleworth left Haverhill, Massachusetts in mid-May while singing “America the Beautiful.” He’s carrying a 25-pound backpack containing personal items.

He did not bother to book hotel rooms along the way. He’s planning to camp out every night until he reaches his goal.

In addition to drawing media attention to his walk, Shuttleworth wishes to speak with as many veterans as possible.

He wants to fully understand what they are going through. That way he can convey this information during media interviews.

These Shoes Were Made for Walking

Before beginning this quest, Shuttleworth trained by walking about 20 miles per day for months with his backpack.

He’s estimating he will end up going through about seven different pairs of walking shoes before reaching California.

He knows that at age 72 this will be a significant challenge. But he says he’s up to the task.

“I consider it a privilege and an honor,” he said. “I’m lucky to be healthy enough to do this.”

Shuttleworth’s main message is pretty simple. “Vets don’t forget vets.” And he wants to make sure nobody else forgets them either.

Sacrificing for Family

Veteran Shuttleworth and his mission to raise awareness and recognize the sacrifices of those who’ve served aren’t the only strides individual veterans are making.

Many are taking their futures into their own hands in hopes to better their lives. And one such veteran is Pete Sabedra of Pennsylvania.

During the 1940s, many young people had to drop out of school to help their families make ends meet. The Great Depression was ravaging the country. Even with “all hands on deck,” many families just barely scraped by.

And Pete was one of those young people who dropped out of school. His father had just passed away, so the eighth grader left school to work on the railroad with his brother.

An Overdue Diploma

After the attack at Pearl Harbor, both young men enlisted in the military and were sent to Germany.

Following the war, Sabedra returned to railroad work as a machine operator. He also served as a patient aide in a hospital.

Because he never graduated from high school, Sabedra decided to get his GED. At 91, he walked across the stage at Derry Area Middle School to accept his degree at a special ceremony earlier this month.

Standing alongside him was his grandson, Kace, who graduated from the district’s high school two weeks later.

Firefighters Ready to Serve

There’s a verse in the New Testament book of Matthew that says, “Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”

It’s a warning to people not to show off their generosity or good deeds. Be content that God sees your actions and will reward you.

But sometimes good deeds done quietly do get attention. Even when the people doing them are not seeking publicity.

Such was the case with a few firefighters in Missouri recently. They observed that a man in an electric wheelchair was stuck.

Above and Beyond Call of Duty

After pushing him out of a rut, they realized the wheelchair’s battery had been drained.

So, instead of leaving him to fend for himself or call family members, they pushed him all the way home. Along the way they learned he was a U.S. veteran.

As it turned out, the driver of a car behind them caught the scene on video. And posted it to Facebook.

Here’s what accompanied the video. “What happens when a fire truck comes upon a citizen whose electric wheelchair has stopped working? You get out and help them home.”

These three stories are a reminder to keep an eye out for veterans – and everyone else – who could use a helping hand. Even if nobody is there to notice it.

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