NMB veteran finishes 5,000-mile Hero Walk in San Francisco

NMB veteran finishes 5,000-mile Hero Walk in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (WMBF/KNTV) - A Marine Corps veteran touched down in San Francisco Saturday after completing an arduous trek around the country to honor his fallen friends.

Ryan Weldon, a 34-year-old from North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, started his trek in February 2015 to raise awareness for military and law enforcement veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. His journey started on the East Coast, in Delaware and spanned 5,000 miles.

"I had a dream Christmas Eve, and woke up Christmas Day with the urge to walk across the U.S. - PTSD  is on the rise," Weldon said back in 2015 shortly after starting the journey. "I thought why not do this? You need to go ahead and get this out there in the open. We need to get rid of the stigma attached to mental disorders and start talking about them."

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, affects about 7 to 8 percent of the population at some point in their lives. Around 5.2 million adults have PTSD during a given year, and only a small portion of those affected have experienced a trauma.

"When I said I was gonna do this trek, my family…thought I was crazy," Weldon said in San Francisco. "Everyone called me crazy, and I stood up for what I believed in. I knew it was a serious cause. I knew it was a series issue. I knew I needed to do something."

Weldon said in 2015 he sold his car and turned down several job offers to embark on the trip, but he said he felt getting the conversation about mental disease started was worth it.

Weldon documented his long walk on his Facebook page and visited other veterans along the way. A GoFundMe page set up for the veteran raised more than $8,000.

KNTV contributed to this report. View the original report from NBC Bay Area (KNTV) here.

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