Former Marine Walking Barefoot to Bring Attention to Affects of PTSD

Ron Zaleski's odyssey of more than 3,000 miles is coming to an end.

The barefoot Ron Zaleski shed his shoes after his release from the U.S. Marine Corps in 1972. He thought he was making a statement but, he admitted, he probably wasn’t.

At least not then.

Now, though, it isn’t defiance that leads the 60-year-old to go barefoot. He’s on a mission to bring attention to the plight of American veterans who suffer from Post Trauma Stress Disorder and the need for grief counseling to be part of basic training for U.S. troops.

Along the way, he’s visiting with veterans and others, talking about the need for PTSD treatment and grief counseling. He’s started a petition drive in hopes of forcing Congress, or at least the powerful Armed Services Committee, to take steps to help soldiers keep the war from following them home.

The petition lists three specific goals: to institute mandatory grief counseling for all military personnel as part of boot camp, to establish a civilian re-entry program for all military personnel prior to discharge and to make support groups available after discharge to help veterans to integrate back into a productive civilian life.

Zaleski's shoeless journey from Massachuesetts to Santa Monica will wrap-up this weekend on the Santa Monica Pier.

Zaleski said he plans to start a return trip — barefoot — later this month, leaving from Phoenix on March 22 and hopefully arriving in Washington, D.C., sometime in early November to deliver his petition and his message to President Barack Obama and Congress.

Click here to sign Zaleski's petition.  

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