Team Sergeant Sullivan Center Activists Hike Memorial Day to D-Day
WASHINGTON – May 26, 2015 – Combat veterans hiked the Appalachian Trail this Memorial Day weekend in memory of service members throughout our nation’s history and will continue the hike through the anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 2015.
Iraq and Afghanistan veterans Brian Kenney, Graham Watson, and Alex Garner have been hiking the Appalachian Trail since late February spreading awareness about the issue of military occupational and environmental illnesses. These are illnesses that follow exposures to various toxins in the war theater.
The group of men are members of Team Sergeant Sullivan Center (Team SSC). The team is a collection of athletes that take part in various awareness and fundraising activities on behalf of The Sergeant Thomas Joseph Sullivan Center, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit headquartered in Washington, D.C.
The Sergeant Sullivan Center advocates on behalf of veterans to government advisory bodies such as the Institute of Medicine and the Defense Health Board. The Center also has provided research grants to organizations such as National Jewish Health, Georgetown University, and the Stony Brook University School of Medicine in order to improve diagnostic and treatment methods.
After completing half of the Appalachian Trail, and as the Memorial Day weekend approached, the hikers decided they wanted to do something special for the holiday and as they continue the hike to honor those who have died in service to the country.
“There has been an effort since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began to educate the general public as to what this holiday is really about. The days of barbecue and trips to the beach being the entirety of the motivation for the holiday are gone. People again understand why this holiday exists. We’ve had 14 years of watching young men my age go off to war only to come home in a casket beneath the flag. People are more in touch with that reality in ways they haven’t been for decades,” said Brian Kenney, the group’s team captain.
With this in mind, for a donation of any amount, the team will add the name of a service member to their roster and hike a mile in that person’s honor. Anyone can submit the name of a service member to the team’s fundraising page.
“We want to carry the memory of the fallen with us on the trail. It doesn’t matter from which era. World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the First Gulf War, or Iraq and Afghanistan, these are our brothers. While we are first and foremost hiking to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice during time of war, and those who have died as result of exposures after they returned home with issues like the Sergeant Sullivan Center advocates on behalf of, we want to honor everyone who has served. If your grandfather served during World War II and passed away only recently, we want to remember guys like that as well,” Kenney explained.
The team’s page can be found at https://sgtsullivancenter.kindful.com/appalachian-trail-2015/memorial-day-hike-for-heroes.
A list of the names of the honored can be found on the team website at
For more information on the Sergeant Thomas Joseph Sullivan Center, visit the webpage at www.sgtsullivancenter.org or contact program director William Wisner at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-261-6562.