Army veteran John Mumby, who has been walking across Texas, reached UT Southwestern Medical Center last Wednesday.
“This walk has given me renewed purpose,” Mumby told NBC DFW. “We need to help our veterans in a way that the system was meant to help them.”
Carrying just a large backpack and a large Gulf War Veterans’ flag, Mumby started his walk on October 3 from the East Texas town of Waskom.
Mumby’s goal is to raise awareness about Gulf War illnesses, both mental and physical, and to raise funds for Gulf War Syndrome research. His plan is to trek across Texas to El Paso.
He will travel Highway 80 from Waskom to Dallas, I20 to I10 just past Pecos, Texas, according to Walk for Vets.
While he served in the Army, Mumby was a part of Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield. “Are there lingering issues that cross my mind every day? Yes, but if I focus solely on the negative, I’ll never make this 850-mile trek,” he said.
Mumby made a stop in Dallas to thank UT Southwestern Medical Center Dr. Robert Haley. Haley has spent nearly three decades of research on veteran illnesses, scientifically corroborating and validating veterans’ claims.
“Back when we started this, the tide was turned completely against them. Nobody was interested in looking into this. It had been declared a psychological reaction to being deployed,” Haley said. “So, we did the one study, and oh my gosh, it was real!”
In his studies, Haley has analyzed more than 1,000 Gulf War veterans.
His research reportedly shows that exposure to diluted sarin gas and a genetic predisposition to symptoms from that exposure have caused the multi-symptom illness that includes PTSD, chronic fatigue, muscle pain, and cognitive and coordination issues.
“It has just been so gratifying to meet them and see how much it means to them that somebody’s looking into it,” Haley said.
As of last Wednesday night, Mumby was bound for Grand Prairie.
“I don’t want the moon,” Mumby said. “I just want a system that works.”
October 29 is Walk for Vets Day.
Readers can follow Mumby’s journey online here, and on Facebook here.