Troy Yocum

How many trails will he complete?

Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran and founder of Warrior Battalion, Troy Yocum, will now take on the massive challenge of hiking more than 1000 trails to raise awareness about veteran suicide after a year of training.

Yocum is the president of Warrior Battalion, a 501c3 charity focused on reducing veteran suicide. He served 10 years in the Army.

He’s also a man on a mission.

Yocum is planning to spend the next year or so losing about 75 pounds, and getting himself in shape to hike more than 1,000 trails across America.

That might seem lofty, but he’s already done something similar.

“I deployed in operation: Iraqi Freedom in 2008 and 2009, and returned home from war, with a crazy idea to walk across America,” Yocum said. “It obviously was a very difficult thing physically, but also mentally, to wake up every single day, walk another 15 to 25 miles to the next town, and then do it all over again every single day for 17 months.”

Yocum approached companies like Louisville Slugger, Minor and Major League Baseball. He walked from baseball stadium to baseball stadium across America three times. It was 7,880 miles, and 12 pairs of shoes.

Though this may all sound a lot like what Forrest Gump did, Yocum’s previous journey across the country and the one he’s training for now are actually serving a very particular purpose: raising awareness for veteran suicide.

“Which at the time was 18 veterans a day. It grew to 22 veterans a day. We saw a drop, but then COVID happened. And now it’s back at its highest rate ever,” Yocum said. “I wanted to take a hold of my own fitness. But once again turn it into some huge challenge so that I could help raise more awareness, and hopefully raise more funds to help even more families.”

Yocum plans to take on a range of trail’s from the easy ones, so that others can join him, to the most challenging the country has to offer, while documenting the whole process with his own videos. He plans to hit the challenging trails at bench marks like every 100th trail, or so.

When he first walked across America, Yocum was 30 years old. He’s now 42, and eager to prove to himself he can still do it.

“I have a long way to go. And I’m up for that physical challenge. Because the spotlight needs to be put on veteran suicide again. With COVID happening, we’re seeing a lot of these veterans dealing with depression. I’m hopeful that something like this will give them hope themselves,” he said.

One veteran Yocum is already inspiring is John Marcum, who owns Florence Strength and Conditioning, where he’s helping train his friend.

“We have to strengthen his entire posterior chain, shoulders, back, glutes, hamstrings, because that’s where he’s going to be carrying most of that load,” Marcum said. “More people need to be doing what Troy is doing, and the other veteran nonprofits that are out there trying to save lives. We, as a group, don’t ask for help very well. We’re trained that if we can’t handle it on our own, we have malfunctioned somehow.”

Yocum is fully committed, having sold his house to buy a camper so that he can eventually wake up and hike a trail every day.

When he’s ready to hike across America, he said it could take three to five years.

“You know, obviously people ask me, so how did you walk across America? My answer always is one step at a time. It just happened to be 35 million steps,” Yocum said.

Taking 35 million more, even if it saves just one veteran’s life, will be well worth the trip, Yocum said.