Veteran walking 3,600 miles is calling attention to vet homelessness

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SAN DIEGO — A 71-year-old U.S. Air Force veteran is finishing a 3,600-mile journey in San Diego as a way to advocate for fellow veterans.

William Shuttleworth left his home in Massachusetts on May 15. He made several stops along his Vets Don’t Forget Vets journey, advocating for better healthcare, wages and other programs to end veteran homelessness.

“Sixty-two thousand veterans are homeless tonight. They weren’t homeless when they went into the military,” Shuttleworth said. “Something happened to their lives, and we need to restore those lives.”

Shuttleworth is raising money for disabled veterans, but he would also like to see more veterans in Congress and raise awareness about veteran suicide.

Shuttleworth said he averages 30 miles a day and carries all of his belongings on his back. He endured rain, tornado warnings and — most recently — extreme heat. He said the most difficult part of his journey was walking through the deserts of Colorado, Arizona and San Diego.

“Some days it was 114. Enough to melt you,” Shuttleworth said. “The pavement at that point gets to be 150 degrees.”

At one point Shuttleworth went to the emergency room after suffering a heat stroke, but he said even that didn’t slow him down. He thought his journey would take seven months, but he’s on track to complete it in half that time.

“I consider it an honor and a privilege to have done this,” Shuttleworth said.

The public is invited to join Shuttleworth in walking the final mile of his journey on Sunday, September 1. Those interested can meet him at the fountain in Waterfront Park at 8:30 a.m. His journey will end at 9 a.m. at the “Embracing Peace” Statue near the USS. Midway with a celebration to follow.

People can learn more about Shuttleworth’s mission here.

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