BIG SPRING, TX (KWES) - A veteran walking across the county has made his way to West Texas. He's doing it to raise awareness on the struggles vets go through after serving time in the military.
Ernesto Rodriguez started walking in Clarksville, TN on Veteran's Day. So far, he's walked over 900 miles. His goal is to walk 2200 miles to Los Angeles to honor the 22 veterans who take their lives every day.
"In my local town veterans gather together at the courthouse and walk 22 miles in honor in honor of the 22 victims we lose to suicide a day, I just took it a step further," said veteran Ernesto Rodriguez.
Rodriguez served the United States Army for 15 years, including two tours in Iraq and two in Afghanistan.
Rodriguez hopes to end his trip in Los Angeles by mid March bringing awareness to the tough transition veterans go through after they serve.
"Some people just can't handle the transition from Military lifestyle, or a lifestyle that has combat involved and things that most people don't see, should never see and come back to I guess what would be considered the easy life," said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez carries a 60 pound rucksack with every day essentials, the signatures are veterans he's met along the way.
He also has a sleeping bag in case there isn't a hotel on the way and he needs to sleep on the side of the road.
"Isolation has been very difficult and I think that's the hardest part of this," said Rodriguez. "I've also seen a lot of good in people. I've been given food, I've been given water, I've been given rooms to stay in."
Rodriguez will walk I-20 until it becomes I-10, all the way to California. He said the journey has added to his original message.
"One of the experiences I've had since I've been walking is unfortunately meeting a lot of homeless veterans as well, and realizing that those veterans may be taken off the street," said Rodriguez. "If it wasn't for the fact that it's depression or something in their mind stopping them from coming back and reintegrating themselves back into society."
Rodriguez plans on making it to Midland by Saturday and Odessa by Monday. Odessa is his halfway point. He encourages anyone to say hello and veterans to sign his rucksack.
Rodriguez said he will turn away cash donations but won't say no to food or water.
To follow his journey check out his Facebook.