“People have the freedoms they do today because of the sacrifice of these veterans and we need to give back to them.”
Father-and-son U.S. Army veterans Jeff and Logan Hastings, have spent the last three months putting their bodies to the test for a cause that’s near and dear to both of them. The pair is kayaking the entire length of the Mississippi River—from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico—to raise awareness for veteran’s issues including suicide and PTSD.
Their journey began on May 1 at Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota, and they just recently paddled their way through Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
“We’re trying to bring awareness through this trip. For three months we’re trying to put our feet in their shoes,” Logan told Fox News, referencing the challenges of the journey.
Jeff joined the Army in 2009, and served as a chaplain in Iraq and Kuwait from 2010 to 2011, Fox reports. His son Logan enlisted in the Army in 2007 and completed two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. The latter earned him a Purple Heart for wounds he suffered after an explosion.
Logan told Fox that he returned home with both mental and physical problems, but instead of medicine, he chose to “self-medicate” with alcohol.
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“Every soldier that gets out has a different scenario. Just because they don’t have some physical attribute that’s wrong or they don’t walk with a limp or something doesn’t mean they aren’t hurting,” Logan told the news channel. “There are plenty of things going on in their minds, their hearts. Some of them don’t know how to get the help, others know how and they can’t get it.”
The plan was originally for Logan to kayak down the Mississippi River with a friend, but when that friend wasn’t able to go, his father stepped in and the voyage turned into a fundraiser.
“He said, Dad, we’ve got to do something to wake up our country,” Jeff recalled to Fox News. “He said he wanted to kayak the entire length of the Mississippi [River] to suffer myself because my buddies are suffering.”
The men camp on the banks of the river each night and have been documenting their journey on their Facebook page. All donations in support of the trip go towards the Warrior 180 Foundation, an organization founded by Jeff and his wife that provides crisis interventions for veterans and their families.
“People have the freedoms they do today because of the sacrifice of these veterans and we need to give back to them. I’m not saying that because I am a veteran. That’s the reason I’m doing this,” Logan explained to Fox.