Lending a Hand: 7,000 Mile Hike for Military Families in Need

By Kristle Helmuth, AW2 Spouse 

Nate Helmuth (left) and Troy Yocum (right) hike through Fort Riley to help raise $5 million for military families in need.

Between going back and forth for medical appointments, and trying to overcome the feeling that he has failed his family, my husband has few things in this world that make him feel the sense of accomplishment that he felt the day that he had the honor of joining Troy Yocum on his Hike for our Heroes trip.

Iraq War Veteran Troy Yocum is hiking 7,000 miles across America, banging his drum, and sounding the call for $5 million to help military families in need. We had known about the hike for a few weeks, but it hadn’t crossed our mind to try and be part of it.

The Wednesday before the hike, I happened to notice that Hike for our Heroes was looking for volunteers on their Facebook website to assist Troy with choosing his route, and informing the public about what he was doing. I spent the rest of the day making phone calls, and composing emails about the great things Troy and his team were doing.

I secured him an MP escort, media coverage, and permission to do a meet and greet at the local Post Exchange. After all that, I was sure my job was done until Troy and his team invited me to walk with him as they journeyed through Fort Riley.

The day of the hike, we met Troy at the gate just outside post and I began my journey. About 2 miles in, I got a call from my husband. “I want to hike too,” he said. Coming from him, this was huge. He had not really done any kind of large physical event since before he was injured in Iraq.

We switched places and I followed behind them in the car, taking pictures along the way. I was sure he wouldn’t make it far, it was really hot, and one of the issues he faces with his Traumatic Brain Injury is not being able to regulate his temperature. He also suffers from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, so his oxygen intake isn’t always the greatest.

He ended up hiking more than I did that day, and even walked in the Independence Day Parade that Saturday. Although I was bummed that I didn’t get to hike the whole time, I couldn’t have been more proud of my husband. Troy and his team were truly an inspiration to us and to so many others, if one guy can make such a huge difference, so can we!  I couldn’t have asked to spend our 4th of July weekend any other way!

For more information on the Hike for our Heroes organization, check out drumhike.com.

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