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British Soldier Marches Toward Westchester County On Nationwide Trek

Neil Davis, right, making his way through Southeast, on Route 6, late Thursday morning. Photo Credit: Karen Tensa
Neil Davis meets some young supporters as he makes his way to Danbury on his coast-to-coast trek to spotlight the needs of veterans. Photo Credit: Not Broken Just Damaged Walk Across America 2015 Facebook Pa
Neil Davis pushes his cart, filled with snacks, clothes, a sleeping bag and tent, as he sets out Thursday morning. Photo Credit: Karen Tensa
A Danbury police car plans to trail Neil Davis as he walks through the city, accompanying on his journey to the New York border. Photo Credit: Karen Tensa
Neil Davis is flying the British and American flags from his car. Photo Credit: Karen Tensa
Neil Davis checks his route with a Danbury police officer before he begins his walk through the city. Photo Credit: Karen Tensa

This story has been updated.

PUTNAM COUNTY, N.Y. — As British Army veteran Neil Davis marched late Wednesday, he could feel the pain in his shins from his 31-mile hike that began in Thomaston, Conn., that morning.

And on Thursday, Davis is setting out to walk another 32 miles and make it to Peekskill before sundown.

He crossed over from Danbury into Putnam County shortly after 9 a.m. Thursday.

But that mileage is just a fraction of the 3,178-mile coast-to-coast trek he has planned across 15 states to call attention to the plight of military veterans in the United States and United Kingdom who are suffering from combat-related stress and post-traumatic stress disorder.

"The suicide rates, the homelessness, the depression," said Davis. "The veterans on both side of the Atlantic don't get the support and care they need. One in 10 homeless people in the UK are veterans, and that's just unacceptable to me.

"Some veterans I've seen here have lost everything — their cars, their homes, their marriages," he said. "Some have succumbed to alcohol and drugs. ... No one understands what they've seen and been through."

But Davis knows. He served for 24 years in the British Army and also worked as a contractor for the U.S. Department of Defense in war-torn Afghanistan and Iraq.

"After my last tour in Afghanistan ... I came back and took six months off completely," he said. "I was completely burned out."

That's when he came up with the idea for the walk, setting off with the blessing of his wife and two kids back home in Pitlochry, Scotland.

Davis now starts walking each day at 6 a.m., finishing around sunset. "The sun is behind in the morning, in my face in the afternoon," Neil said. "I know I'm going the right way." For more specific directions, he checks his iPhone and a Garmin GPS.

The terrain in Connecticut surprised him. "I thought America was flat — it's been a great lesson in geography for me." But the warmth of the residents made up for the big hills.

"Thomaston blew me away — 300 people met me on the Town Green there," Davis said. "Connecticut is trying to make me cry on a daily basis. The kids greet me waving placards they made — it's an emotional roller coaster."

The journey from Provincetown, Mass., where he started just 12 days ago, will take about 120 days, ending outside Los Angeles. He plans to walk mostly along Route 6 to St. Louis, then pick up Route 66 to the West Coast.

To follow his journey across America, which he hopes to complete by Nov. 30, like his Facebook Page : Not Broken Just Damaged Walk Across America 2015. Donations can also be made in honor of his walk online at the Wounded Warriors Project website. All donations go to charity.

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