Walking for the wounded

Eric Sparling
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A rest at the border

FORT LAWRENCE – She’s walked 239 kilometres since she left Fredericton June 4. And now she’s home in Nova Scotia.

Cpl. Kate MacEachern is walking from Gagetown, N.B. to her hometown, Antigonish, to raise awareness of the plight of veterans with physical or mental trauma returning to Canada from service.

“I’m just one person trying to make a difference,” she said of her Long Way Home walk, which is slated to finish June 22. The jaunt is shining a spotlight on Soldier On, a fund established to support active and former military personnel.

She described crossing the provincial border as very emotional.

“I can’t describe it.”

Her father unexpectedly joined her for the final part of her June 14 section, which saw her cross into Nova Scotia around noon.

The army corporal has been walking 35 to 50 kilometres each day. It’s only been a little more than a week.

“(But) it feels like it’s been an entire lifetime.”

MacEachern is walking in uniform, with a pack on her back. She first had the idea 10 months ago. She started training in November, completing a 13-km hike before breakfast and, when possible, another after work. She said she progressively added more distance and more weight to her pack. She completed 2,800 km to prepare for the Long Way Home.

The armoured crewman didn’t make any political comments about the treatment of veterans. Wayne Tibbets, a legion member on hand to welcome the woman, was reluctant when asked if the government is doing enough for our service members.

“I really shouldn’t answer that. No, especially the maimed and injured ones. They could be doing a whole lot more.”

Tibbets called MacEachern an inspiration.

As for the walker, she’s just focused on the mental challenge of forcing herself to get up each morning and get out on the road to achieve her goal.

“I just want to know that I made a difference,” she said.

esparling@amherstdaily.com

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Fredericton, Gagetown Antigonish Canada

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