Pair's walk from Maine to Fla. supporting military families
William Mosebach, 32, is an Army veteran himself, and his girlfriend, Kristen Creech , 25, knows many others who have served in the military.
They had been considering taking a long hike together since they met 2½ years ago, and then came across the website for 'Active Heroes,' a nonprofit organization that aims to strengthen military families and assist veterans and active duty military by providing financial assistance and job training.
Mosebach and Creech began their 2,500-mile hike in Calais, Maine on Sept. 8 and already have raised $4,000 for military families. They expect to finish their journey in their home city of West Palm Beach, Fla., in March.
U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., was in Prescott Park to greet the couple Wednesday morning before they continued hiking to Newburyport, Mass.
Ayotte promised to help spread the word about the couple's journey, to raise awareness and funds to support military families.
Both hikers said they have been moved by the help of volunteers, whether in offering places to stay or knocking on doors to raise money for their effort.
Mosebach served as a combat medic during the Iraq War, and participated in the first and only combat jump into Iraq during the war.
Mosebach served from 2001 to 2005 when he was honorably discharged from the military.
He said his reintegration process was pretty thorough.
'They took a lot of time with us vets and helped us out as best they could,' Mosebach said.
But Mosebach said he found the suicide rate of returning veterans - 18 veteran suicides a day - staggering, and wondered who was helping the families of those veterans.
'When we found out about this charity, it was our chance to help,' Mosebach said.
Mosebach said it seems every time they get tired of walking and want to quit, someone will stop their car, get out and thank them.
'Those are the most important two words you can say to a veteran — thank you,' Mosebach said.
The couple is following the East Coast Greenway, an 'urban Appalachian Trail' from Maine to Florida that keeps them closer to the public eye.
Ayotte said she heard about the couple's effort through her website and various veterans groups in New Hampshire.
'I think it is a fantastic effort what they're doing to help our men and women in uniform,' Ayotte said.
She said Creech especially demonstrates to average citizens the role they can play in helping military families.
Mosebach and Creech have established a Facebook page to document their trip. More information about their effort is available at www.activeheroes.org/hike.