71-year-old veteran walks across America to raise awareness for veterans’ needs

NEWBURYPORT, Mass. (WFXT/CNN) – A 71-year-old veteran is back home in Massachusetts after a long walk across America to raise awareness for homeless and mentally ill veterans.

William Shuttleworth began his journey to San Diego from his home in Newburyport.

He went through five pairs of shoes as he walked across 14 states in nearly 110 days.

"Two of them had complete holes in them by the time I got my new ones," Shuttleworth said.

After he began his trip in May, he said he got an up-close look at a side of America few ever experience.

"You think the world and country's coming apart and it's a dangerous world,” he said. “But you put five pairs of shoes on and walk across the country, you see some of the most gracious, kind, loving, hard-working Americans that want the same slice of the American pie that you and I had."

The U.S. Air Force veteran was on a one-man mission to raise awareness for issues affecting veterans, including homelessness and mental illness.

Along the nearly four-month trek that Shuttleworth dubbed “Vets Don’t Forget Vets,” he stopped and visited with veterans at places like VFW halls and coffee shops.

He said the reception around the country was unbelievable.

"I've had motorcades leading me in, motorcycles, firemen, police departments,” he said. “I've had people open their hearts and doors and restaurants to me, celebrating what we’re trying to do on behalf of veterans."

Shuttleworth said he only took five days off, not because of injury, but to meet up with family.

"I had a couple of dogs that looked at me as if I was breakfast one day in Colorado, but I was able to skirt them,” he said. “No trucker issues, no car issues."

Shuttleworth was able to complete his walk nearly two months ahead of schedule.

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