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Veterans: Joe and Pat Hare welcome Ranger Cory Smith

Afghanistan veteran is on biking/hiking trek from Ft. Benning, GA, to home in Indianapolis, IN, to dramatize the plight of returning veterans of Afghanistan who are having difficulties transitioning from service to civilian life, with higher rates of unemployment, homelessness, and suicide.
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News submitted by Joe Hare

News of Veterans/Patriot Guard Riders

As US Army Ranger Cory Smith made his way through South Central Kentucky this Sunday, January 29, 2012, local Patriot Guard member Joe and Pat Hare of Columbia, hooked up with him in Barren County.

Cory is on his way from Ft Benning, Ga to Indianapolis, In. on foot and bicycle to promote the plight of returning soldiers and some members of the PGR were around to show support and help where they could.

When Ranger Cory Smith returned from his last combat deployment to Afghanistan, his life had changed. Cory served for four years in the army's elite 75th Ranger Regiment where he learned that service goes beyond simply being a soldier - it is a true sacrifice of oneself. He decided to leave the army and pledged to focus more on his young daughter and as he struggled to come to terms with his experiences, he began running. He found that running allowed him time to think, reflect and process his experiences. He also learned that soldiers transitioning from the army face higher unemployment, homeless and suicide rates than civilians - in fact 18 veterans commit suicide every day.

To highlight the difficulties these soldiers face going home, Cory decided to highlight that difficulty - by making a very public difficult journey - by running home. Home for Cory is Indianapolis, 565 miles from Columbus, Georgia. Originally planning to run straight through - 20 miles a day for 28 days, Cory's taken a couple breaks - once for a job interview, once to attend the State of the Union Address in Washington DC as a guest of Congressman Carson.

After running 270 miles, Cory switched to a bicycle because of a possible stress fracture in his foot, but he continues to push on, adapting to this setback and keeping his eye on the goal of seeing his daughter at the end of his journey. As he crosses America, Cory has struck a chord among veterans who have come out to see him, run with him, or who have written him, posting their own emotional stories at times on his Facebook page,

Cory's been invited to appear at Super Bowl Village during Super Heroes Day, Thursday Feb 2. His support team will drive him into Indy for the day, then back out to the road so that he can continue to his completion, tentatively set for Wednesday Feb 8th. Cory's message is simple - that it isn't easy becoming a civilian again, but hopes every veteran realizes that he or she is not alone - that many other veterans go through a similar transition. Cory has teamed up with a 501(c)3 nonprofit, GallantFew, Inc., which helps veterans by finding veterans who have already previously made their own transition and are now successful civilians. Those veterans become local hometown mentors for our newest veterans. We may not be able to stop 18 veteran suicides a day, but Cory believes we can stop the next one - and then the next, and soon we will have made a very real impact.

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This story was posted on 2012-01-30 04:30:00
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Ft. Benning veteran on bike/hike trek gets Columbia, KY greeting

2012-01-30 - Glasgow, KY - Photo from Joe Hare, Patriot Guard Rider.
As US Army Ranger Cory Smith made his way through South Central KY, Sunday, January 29, 2012, local Patriot Guard Riders (PGR) member Joe Hare, right and wife Pat Hare of Columbia, KY, hooked up with him in Barren County. Cory is on his way from Ft. Benning, GA to Indianapolis, IN. on foot and bicycle to promote the plight of returning soldiers and some members of the PGR were around to show support and help where they could. (Joe Hare assumed the post of Commander, Columbia, KY, VFW Post 6097 in December 2011. The post is being energized with new members and outreach not seen since the post World War II days of the 1940s and 1950s. -CM)

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