Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Local News

November 30, 2012

Soldier returns home from hike to aid homeless vets

BROWNSBURG — After five months and nearly 2,000 miles, Zach Day is back in Brownsburg.

Day, a sergeant in the U.S. Army who served in the Middle East, recently returned from yet another journey. This one was along the Appalachian Trail, in an effort to raise funds for homeless veterans and public awareness for their plight.

“It’s been my honor to serve these (homeless veterans) because if you’ve ever interacted with them, they’re the most appreciative people,” Day said, noting the funds he raised from sponsorships of his hike will go to the Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation. “These guys don’t feel entitled at all, and then they are my veteran brothers and sisters so that means even more to me.”

As for the hike, Day said he encountered a range of sights and came home with a range of memories.

“It was the most fulfilling, uncomfortable at times, joyous, physically and mentally draining, stimulating experience I have ever probably had in my life,” he said.

Along the journey, he posted thoughts and his location from his cell phone to allow friends and family to know where he was.

The Appalachian Trail runs from Georgia to Maine. Each year, people come from throughout the world to make the famous hike.

Day started his hike in Maine and headed south. About 100 miles in, he met a group of three hikers from Dallas, Texas, who were walking for the Wounded Warrior Project. One was a U.S. Marine, the other had served in Iraq, and the other was a civilian friend.

“Everything just fell into place,” he said. “Sounds crazy, but that’s what happened. Obviously we operated on the same mental wavelength because we were all military advocates and there are a lot of inherent characteristics that by default come with people who were in the military and advocate for the military, so it was a great fit. It was just divine intervention.”

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