CHICAGO (CBS) — A Vietnam War veteran from Montana has been walking across the country – from Washington state to Washington D.C. – and made his way to the Chicago area this week, in an effort to raise funds to help support wounded and disabled veterans and their families.
Retired U.S. Marine Sgt. Chuck Lewis told WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser he got the idea for his “Walking for the Fallen” campaign from a simple act that got people’s attention.
“I was standing out on Christmas morning, in my uniform, to remind folks that not everybody was home for Christmas,” he said.
Lewis said standing for the fallen became walking for the fallen,
“Since 2005, we’ve lost more active-duty members to suicide than we have in combat,” he said.
He said he thinks some service members lose their sense of purpose after leaving the military, especially when they end up in a menial job, or unemployed.
“They might go from working on an F/A-18 to flipping burgers at McDonald’s. I think they lose sight of what their purpose really is,” Lewis said.
He told the story of two soldiers from his native Montana. One came home after losing his legs and got a hero’s welcome, the other was unnoticed when he got home.
“Nobody even knew he was home,” Lewis said. “The first time most of us heard about him was when they called for an honor guard.”
That gets to him, so he’s walking.
“It kind of makes me feel guilty. Part of this walk could be out of guilt, because we’ve created a society that doesn’t know how to really deal with crisis too well,” he said.
One thing that has struck Lewis on his walk has been the patriotism he sees.
He was walking south on Route 47 on Friday, between Yorkville and Morris.