New England man walks 70 miles for PTSD awareness

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – One man’s mission this Memorial Day served as a reminder of the help some service members need after they come home.

On Monday afternoon, Steve Lewis finished a long walk across Southern New England at McBride’s Pub in Providence. He walked 70 miles to raise money and awareness for veterans coping with post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

“Having coached a lot of young men who went into the service, and came home not in the same condition that they went out, I knew I had to do something about it,” Lewis said.

Lewis started his journey on Saturday morning in Manchester, Connecticut. He walked for the organization “New England Walk for 22.” The group bears the number 22 because organizers say roughly 22 veterans commit suicide every day.

Middletown resident Beverly Franklin lost her son, who was a U.S. Army Sergeant, to suicide in 2010.

“Michael believed in this country, and he believed in the freedoms this country had,” Franklin said.

Sgt. Franklin did two tours in Iraq. When he returned to the United States, he began suffering from PTSD.

“The first time I saw him, I looked in his eyes and knew something was wrong,” Franklin explained.

In September 2010, Sgt. Franklin shot and killed his wife and then turned the gun on himself.

His mother says nothing will ever ease her pain, but she hopes his life can serve as a reminder to other soldiers who suffer after the war – you’re not alone.

“The most I can do is honor his memory and try to prevent what happened to him, from happening to other people. Getting them help, letting them know they are not alone.”