‘The long trail home’ raises money for veterans

Posted: Friday, November 21, 2014 7:32 pm | Updated: 7:43 pm, Fri Nov 21, 2014 | Alexis Cubit | Hi-Desert Star | Link to Article

YUCCA VALLEY — According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, more than 22 veterans commit suicide daily. Matt Littrell was almost one of them.

One night, he called the Veteran Affairs Crisis Line and was upset by how he was treated.

“I spoke to somebody on the other end of the line that was reading a script that truly didn’t care how the night ended for me,” he said. “It infuriated me. I went to bed pissed off, just on fire.”

Matt Littrell (left) began his journey in May when he left from Camp Lejune in Surf City, North Carolina and headed to Camp Pendleton. Also pictured: Kristen Fuhrmann - Alex Cubit
Matt Littrell (left) began his journey in May when he left from Camp Lejune in Surf City, North Carolina and headed to Camp Pendleton. Also pictured: Kristen Fuhrmann
Photo by Alex Cubit

Littrell decided he wanted to do something about it. He said horses were a big part in his healing and wanted them to be part of the solution.

They don’t really think about the last 15 minutes or the next 15 minutes. They’re right here, right now,” Littrell said about the animals. “They forced me to come back to the land of the living, so to speak. And for that, I’ll be forever grateful to them. So, it had to be horseback.”

On May 1 at Camp Lejune in Surf City, North Carolina, Littrell started his journey. On Nov. 11, Veterans Day, Littrell made it to California and passed through Yucca Valley Thursday. His ultimate goal is to get to Camp Pendleton, where he was stationed during his four years as a marine.

“That was home,” he said. “We come back from overseas, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re home. We’re still over there mentally. For me, coming back to Pendleton, this was my long trail home. It’s a healing process.”

Another part of Littrell’s journey is to raise money for the Semper Fi Fund, a program that provides immediate financial assistance and lifetime support to post 9/11 wounded, critically ill and injured members of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families. He created a Facebook page to document the journey and a fundraising page for people to donate. So far, he has raised $76,810 from 1,095 donations.

Additionally, Bob Parsons, the founder of GoDaddy, has promised to match all money raised by the Semper Fi Fund between Nov. 10 and Dec. 31 up to $5 million and donate it to the Semper Fi Fund.

Littrell says the long trail home has been an opportunity of a lifetime, allowing him to “see the country at three miles an hour horseback.” The trip has also allowed Littrell to see that people genuinely care about veterans instead of being a “yellow ribbon, bumper sticker society.”

“These guys, they go over there and they’re still fighting and dying every day,” he said. “Then they come back and they’re forgotten. So, a lot of this is you’re not forgotten and we’re not; 47,000 people on that Facebook page say you’re not.”

To donate, go to Littrell’s Facebook page, The Long Trail Home, or fundraising site at https://fundraising.semperfifund.org/fundraise?fcid=249300.