MILWAUKEE (WITI) — It is the challenge of a lifetime for two Milwaukee-area veterans, who are walking from Milwaukee to Los Angeles — carrying everything on their backs.
Anthony Anderson and Tom Voss are good friends who have a lot in common. They both served as Infantrymen in the Army. Both were deployed to Iraq, and both suffer from post traumatic stress disorder.
“While I was there my platoon sergeant was killed in action and my squad leader was killed in action and they`re both senior leadership positions so they were kind of like our father figures at the time and it happened within a couple months. You see your friends get killed in front of you and it really has a lasting effect on you,” Voss said.
“I couldn`t sleep. I`d pick fights with my wife just to do it. We didn`t really know how to talk to one another anymore. Started to disassociate myself from a lot of friends and a lot of things that I used to like to do. I didn`t really realize what was going on,” Anderson said.
Those issues led to an idea, the idea to a phone call, and the phone call to the decision to walk to L.A.
Voss says he was initially planning on making the walk himself.
“I kind of just got to the point where I need to,” Voss said.
Anderson didn’t just support Voss’ personal mission, but he wanted others to share in it.
“How about if I come with you and we try to do this to help Dryhootch?” Anderson said.
“Get the word out about veterans issues and what is going on in the veterans community,” Voss said.
That’s how this journey of inner change became a veterans trek. On August 30th, Voss and Anderson will take their first steps from Milwaukee’s War Memorial. The trip will take them nearly 2,700 miles, through 107 cities and will last roughly five months.
“This is something that takes a lot of time, takes a lot of energy so it takes a lot of conviction. These guys must really believe in what they`re doing. Maybe I better find out what they`re doing and then find out how I can get involved and help,” Anderson said.
The two have been training since May, but it’s not just the physical journey they’re preparing for. Each will have to work through his own emotional battle scars along the way.
“If I`m having a bad day he`ll be there to support me through that or walk a mile up so I can deal with what I`m dealing with,” Voss said.
“We`re finishing it. If I hurt my knee and I can`t walk for a month then we`re going to take that time to recuperate and pick right back up. This is not something where it`s best case scenario we finish it. We are going to finish it,” Anderson said.
When all is said and done, Voss and Anderson hope to have raised $100,000 for Milwaukee’s Dryhootch, found peace within themselves and had a major impact on the veterans community nationwide.
“This is much bigger than me. This is much bigger than Tom, and we hope that what we`re doing will lead to bigger things for veterans and their families,” Anderson said.
CLICK HERE for additional information on Voss and Anderson’s journey.