CHICAGO — He served three military tours overseas. Now, local veteran Michael Thorpe hopes that experience will come in handy as he and his dog hike the Appalachian Trail for a good cause.
Enlisting in the Marines and later the army, Thorpe’s military service spans more than 13 years and includes tours of duty in Fallujah and Afghanistan. In 2013 he was medically discharged after receiving a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Suffering from nightmares and panic attacks Thorpe said having a canine companion has changed his life.
“If we are out in the store, I’m focused just as much on him as he is focused on me, so my mind is not wandering as much,” he said. “I’m concentrating on him and not my combat tours, stuff like that.”
In February after weeks of prepping and training, Thorpe and Fecteau stepped off from Georgia and began an estimated 6-month journey to Maine.
The trek is a personal one. He says his mission is to unwind while raising money and awareness for an organization he credits for giving him his life back. PAWS Assisting Wounded Warriors, or PAWWS, pairs veterans with a service dog for comfort and security.
Thorpe said he hopes to finish the trail by mid-summer but ultimately it will be Fecteau’s decision.
“It’s all up to him. I’m not going push him at all.”
Learn more at http://www.pawws.org/