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Jimmy Novak, you just walked 3,000 miles to help veterans. Where are you going now?

Jimmy Novak, a retired Army Sergeant First Class soldier, embarked on a more than 3,000 mile journey, starting from his Washington home and ending at Walt Disney World, to raise awareness for veterans and people struggling with PTSD.
Jimmy Novak, a retired Army Sergeant First Class soldier, embarked on a more than 3,000 mile journey, starting from his Washington home and ending at Walt Disney World, to raise awareness for veterans and people struggling with PTSD. Jimmy Novak/JLNovak22

A walk across America is a symbolic journey for the several hundred who have taken on the months-long trek. Some do it for causes and others to find themselves.

Jimmy Novak is about to join the ranks of those who’ve completed the journey when he arrives at his final destination — Walt Disney World — which he has spent five months walking towards.

He embarked on this more than 3,000 mile journey, starting from his Washington home, for a cause close to his heart.

Retired Sergeant First Class Novak has been a high-functioning anxious depressive for most of his adult life, but does not have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, according to his blog. He’s struggled with thoughts of suicide and has seen his friends lives torn apart by self-medicating from their experiences in combat.

He says he is, “one of the lucky ones.”

Homecoming 2005 (2).jpg
Jimmy Novak embraces his three children, Owen, Samantha and Karaha, after coming back from his first combat deployment in 2005. Jimmy Novak

He continued to say in his blog post that the walk will help him “draw attention to the value of life ... I am here to tell my fellow veterans that you are never alone! Seeking help and reaching out is difficult and it requires courage, but it is a sign of strength and a sign of resiliency.”

So, he began his walk on March 22 and plans to be on a Disney property Tuesday, but will celebrate the end of his journey on Aug. 22 which is also his 43rd birthday. From March to August, he walked 22 miles every day.

If you are wondering why the number 22 keeps popping up, it isn’t a coincidence.

Novak is a special number to him because it’s the number of Veterans who commit suicide each day, which comes from a 2012 Veteran’s Affairs report.

“I want people to know that the journey to recovery is not getting to a certain place, it is about getting one foot in front of the other and continuing on your journey. It is not about where I’m going it is about taking the journey to get there,” Novak said.

After getting back, Novak will be getting back to his coffee shop job and working on writing a book about his adventure and his own struggle with depression and anxiety. The working title is “Walking Distance.”

Miami Herald Real Time Reporter Devoun Cetoute covers breaking news, Florida theme parks and general assignment. He attends the University of Florida and grew up in Miami. Theme parks are on his mind in and out of the office.
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