Roy Wesley Brady Jr., a former U.S. Marine Gunnery Sergeant, has found a new mission.
Brady was seeking a new challenge after recently retiring from 22 years of service, including two tours served in Iraq.
“I was very fortunate returning home from each combat deployment alive and not wounded, and I wanted to pay it forward,” Brady said. “I thought a lot about our Combat Wounded brothers and sisters, and how we could make it better for them to cope with life and the future.”
In researching ways he could help, Brady came across the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge, founded by current Executive Director David Olson, a retired Naval officer.
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The mission of the nonprofit organization is to develop solutions, treatment and care for veterans with amputations, post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries.
Brady read that two other marines had started a venture to raise awareness, and knew he had found his next assignment.
Brady is walking from Charlotte to Camp Pendleton in California to raise money to help combat-wounded and injured veterans.
Brady, 42, was born in Nashville, Tenn., and raised in Charlotte. He attended Quail Hollow Middle School and South Mecklenburg High School; he now lives in Uniontown, Ohio, near Akron, but still says Charlotte is “home.”
On March 1, Brady began the journey of nearly 2,500 miles, leaving from the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Center in Charlotte, at 6115 N. Hill Circle.
Brady family members, Army Sgt. Brian Miller, who lost a leg in Iraq, and a few friends gathered to “push him out,” as Brady described it.
The weather was cold and rainy, but that didn’t stop Brady or the soldiers. He thanked the Marines and others for coming on an early Sunday morning to show support and solidarity.
“I’m ready,” he said, and, accompanied by fellow Marines for the first half-mile, Brady formally began his “Walk 4 Warriors” at 9:50 a.m.
Brady said he hopes to raise $35,000 for a new CWVC program (visit http://combatwounded.org/walk). According to U.S. Marine Corps Master Sgt. Shannon Sweeney, Brady made it to Kings Mountain at 6:20 p.m. that day and stopped for the night.
He walked 33.3 miles the first day.
The approximate distance between Brady’s starting point and and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton is 2,424 miles.
“I’ve read that, with a good pace, the distance across country could be walked in four to six months,” Brady said. “My goal is six months, but if I finish sooner, that would be great.
I’d like to make it back before the pro football season begins – with my target (amount) reached,” Brady said.
Brady began training for the walk Oct. 15, 2014, doing “practice hikes” of 10-20 miles a day to build stamina. He gathered the proper equipment and gear, including shoes and a tent.
“I will sleep wherever I can find a safe area or stealth area to pitch my tent,” he said. “I will probably stay in a motel once or twice a month to let my body rest, and/or if I have any injuries that need tending to. Family along the way will step up and, of course, Marines will help me when they can.”
Brady is paying for the trip out of his own pocket, and with help from family and friends.
Brady has a Facebook page for people to keep up with his challenge; the page title is OIF/OEF Wounded Warrior Tour Across America.
If anyone is near where Brady is walking and would like to join him for a bit, he invites you to do so. “I would dearly appreciate company every now and then, if it’s possible,” Brady said.
To donate, visit www.combatwounded.org.
Karen Scioscia is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Karen? Email her at email@example.com.