On Tuesday 21st July, Brian Freeman passed through Parkes NSW.  Brian Freeman, an ex-solider, is traversing the length of Australia from top to bottom in an epic journey to raise funds to support the psychological recovery of returned Australian soldiers.

Brian started his walk that day at 2am. 53 days into his walk, his journey is taking him from the northernmost point at the top of Australia to the southernmost point at the bottom of Australia. Brian is walking/running an average of 65km per day and his journey will include kayaking across the rough seas of the Bass Strait to Tasmania.

With Brian is the Roll of Honour, which contains the names of the 41 Australian soldiers who have been killed in Afghanistan, which he is carrying with him on his 7 month journey called “Tribute to the Anzacs”.

This journey, which began at base camp Mount Everest (Brian was unable to summit due to the devastating earthquakes in Nepal) and is currently in the “Traverse of Australia” phase, will then take him to the Kokoda Trail (where he currently holds the world record for the fastest trail completion time).  The final phase will take them to Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, which is the world’s tallest freestanding mountain.

The aim is to raise 2 million dollars to help make a difference in the lives of returned Australian soldiers and the Families of the Fallen. Funds raised will go towards suicide prevention and intervention, counselling, employment guidance and job placements.

Brian founded the charity Walking Wounded in 2014. Walking Wounded is committed to supporting the psychological recovery and rehabilitation of returned Australian soldiers who are experiencing hardships after their time in service. This includes helping them assimilate back into society, provides training and helps secure employment in the civilian workforce. Its work extends to providing counselling, intervening and preventing the alarming number of suicides in the young veteran community and is committed to supporting the families of those that have lost their lives at war.

The Parkes Rapid Relief Team was glad to offer their support to Brian and his support team by cooking breakfast for them at Cooke Park. Bacon & Egg Rolls, Sausage Sandwiches and tea & coffee were provided to Brian, his team and others from the local community including the Parkes Mayor Ken Keith. The RRT would like to thank McDonalds, Coles, French Taste Bakery, Dwyers Meats and Buttabeef Butchery for their generous food donations.

It was a relaxed Brian Freeman that walked into Wagga’s Victory Memorial Gardens the following Saturday at 2:00pm. Members of RRT from Wagga were on hand to provide lunch and offer encouragement as he and his team continue this second phase of their incredible journey.

Brian Freeman founded the Walking Wounded; a charity that provides assistance to Australian soldiers experiencing hardships after their time in service. Brian’s words were “We would like to give them a hand up, not a handout”

Brian greeted members of his team that had travelled ahead of him, the defence forces and the public that had turned out to show their support. Over 120 people attended.

He then gave a speech detailing the background of Walking Wounded and highlighting the problems he is seeking to raise awareness for – the struggles veterans face returning from war. The Mayor Rod Kendall thanked Brian and urged the public to remember the number of veterans living in the city with the RAAF base and the Kapooka Army camp nearby.

Following that, the band played less formal tunes as the public were served sausages in bread, hot and cold drinks provided by the local RRT. They provided Brian and his team with steak sandwiches to which his comment was “what you’ve done – it’s been fabulous!” It was a small measure compared to Brian’s dedication!

All the best, Brian!

More details about Brian’s Great Australian Traverse can be found at www.walkingwounded.org.au and keep an eye on the RRT blog as we continue to support Brian’s journey.

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