Walking away from PTSD: Local veteran’s 500 mile trek

Walking away from PTSD: Local veteran’s 500 mile trek
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Rich Henning arrives in Spokane on his 500 mile walk to raise awareness of PTSD.

A disabled Coeur d’Alene veteran was told he may never walk again — now he’s close to finishing a 500-mile trek across the Northwest.

Rich Henning suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He says walking is his form of therapy. Henning is visiting veterans all over the Inland Northwest reminding them there is light at the end of a very dark tunnel — one he felt trapped inside for years.

It took Henning 22 days to walk from Olympia to Spokane.

“The wind would be so bad sometimes it would blow my glasses off my face,” Henning said.

Along his zig-zag journey, Henning met other veterans struggling with their own personal wars.

“You don’t know why you’re mad, you’re just mad. The stupidest things just make you mad and you — I call it ping pong balling — you get these thoughts in your head and you can’t get them out.”

Henning served as an infantry soldier and spent time in Germany, Turkey, and was stationed around the U.S. He found himself recovering in a VA hospital years ago when he fell 40-feet during a training exercise.

“I blamed a lot of people for stuff and I really shouldn’t have been blaming anybody but myself, and when I understood and accepted my own shortcomings and realized I needed to stop acting like a knucklehead, then my life changed.”

Henning chose to walk away from his PTSD quite literally.

Along his 500-mile trek from Olympia to Montana, he’s stopped in dozens of towns talking to other vets — reminding them there is a way to a new life which Henning calls post traumatic growth.

So far, Henning has raised $3,000 during his walk. He plans to open a scholarship fund for veterans at North Idaho College.