Vet Crosses Country on Horseback for PTSD Awareness

NBC San Diego | Monday, Dec 1, 2014 • Updated at 12:13 PM PST | By Liberty Zabala | Link to Article | Follow us: @nbcsandiego on Twitter | NBCSanDiego on Facebook

A Marine Corps veteran has come home to Camp Pendleton in San Diego County, California, after traveling across the country entirely on horseback.

Matt Littrell is riding to raise awareness for veterans dealing with mental, emotional and physical pain.

After two combat tours in Iraq, coming home was one of the darkest parts of Littrell’s journey — until he got on his horse to ride 2,600 miles to fight for his brothers in arms going through the same thing.

A Marine Corps veteran has come to Camp Pendleton after traveling across the country on horseback to raise awareness for veterans dealing with physical and emotional pain. NBC 7's Liberty Zabala reports on Nov. 30, 2014. (Published Monday, Dec 1, 2014)
A Marine Corps veteran has come to Camp Pendleton after traveling across the country on horseback to raise awareness for veterans dealing with physical and emotional pain. NBC 7’s Liberty Zabala reports on Nov. 30, 2014. (Published Monday, Dec 1, 2014)

“One step at a time. One mile at a time. It’s a journey you’ll take and you’ll find it,” Littrell said.

Coming home from the battlefield, Littrell’s new war began as he struggled with PTSD and thoughts of suicide.

“It was a feeling of just isolation. There was nobody who understood, nobody who got it and you can’t know unless you’ve been there. A big part of this was going out and saying, we’re still out here, we’re still fighting,” he said.

It’s a problem that claims the lives 22 veterans a day, and Littrell wanted to show the world why they are worth riding for.

“Guys come back and they do feel forgotten,” He said. “They feel like they don’t have a purpose, they don’t have meaning.”

His journey started in North Carolina and ended at Camp Pendelton, stopping for folks willing to hear his story.

“At 20 years old, you know, carrying a fully automatic weapon and you’re in charge of peoples’ lives,” Littrell said. “Making life and death decisions every day, and they need to find a way to matter.”

As this part of his journey ends, a new one begins.

“We actually got engaged on the trail, and we do plan to get married when we get home,” said Littrell’s fiancé Kristen Fuhrmann. “I fell in love with the honesty and the person.”

Every mile along the way, he’ll keep fighting.

“I told these guys we’d ride for them and we will and we did,” Littrell said.

So far, he has raised $82,000 for the Semper Fi Fund.