UPDATE: Navy veteran walking across country for veteran suicide - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Navy veteran walking across country for veteran suicide and PTSD

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Photo: Walktoend22 Instagram Photo: Walktoend22 Instagram
CLEVELAND, TN (WRCB) -

A Navy veteran is walking across the country with his service dog to raise awareness about veteran suicide and PTSD.

Joe Copeland started his journey in Virginia more than two months ago and made it to Chattanooga on Saturday.

Copeland and his sidekick, Molly, are embarking on a cross-country journey. All they have is a cart full of the basic necessities, an American flag, and each other.

"She's pretty much my best friend at this point. She can sense my body language if I'm starting to get upset or angry," Copeland said.

Molly is a Blue Lacy and a service dog.

Copeland said he served in the Middle East and now suffers from combat PTSD. Bringing awareness to PTSD is one of the reasons why he's walking 10 to 20 miles a day.

FOLLOW JOE'S JOURNEY | HIS FACEBOOK PAGE

"For me, personally, it means nightmares, heightened awareness,  paranoia, little things can trigger me into a bad mood," Copeland said.

He also wears a shirt that says #WalkToEnd22.

Data at one time said that's how many veterans committed suicide each day. New numbers from the VA show it's decreased slightly since then. 

Copeland has walked more than 600 miles since leaving Virginia Beach two months ago.

Tennessee is the third state he's made it to and he says his message is making an impact.

"I think the best part of the walk so far has been the people. The kindness of strangers has been overwhelming. It's awesome," Copeland said.

He's met hundreds of others online through Facebook Live.

Every night, he talks about the things he did, the people he met, and the places he's seen.

Copeland hopes his journey to the West Coast will help those who are struggling.

"I think that if I can inspire one individual to choose life, I think it'll all be worth it. All the blisters, the pain, and sunburn, all that, it'll be worth it," Copeland said.

The veteran is spending the night at the Harrison Bay campground. From there, he'll continue his journey to California.

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