UNION COUNTY, NJ -Veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder will be the beneficiaries of the First Annual Walking in My Boots Walkathon on Saturday, May 30, at Warinanco Park in Roselle. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and the walk begins at 10 a.m. 

The event is presented by two, non-profit organizations,Moving New Jersey Forward and VET4U. The County of Union and the Historic Midtown Elizabeth SID are also co-sponsors. 

The event is a 5K walk in the park, and those who wish to register online may do so at walkinginmyboots.eventbrite.com

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Anyone wishing more information can call Janna at 908-590-3869 or email vet4u2@gmail.com.  Entry fees are $15 before May 20, and $20 after May 20.

“There are not enough people who know or understand what PTSD is, and it’s something we need to change,” said Sergio Granados, Union County Freeholder and a founder of Moving New Jersey Forward. “Raising awareness helps to overcome the stigma of PTSD and effectuate treatment and positive outcomes. We need to work to provide more services for our Veterans that have sacrificed so much to improve our quality of life.”

Moving New Jersey Forward is a community-based non-profit that works to raise awareness and education efforts at the local and national levels on issues pertaining to social justice. 

Eric Peters, a 24-year-old veteran from Clark who walked from his home in Clark to California last year to raise awareness for PTSD, will speak at the event. Born out of his frustration to get the proper medical care from the VA and suffering from PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury himself, he decided to make the pilgrimage. Eric was in the 101st Airborne Division and received a Purple Heart for his sacrifices. Knowing that he is not alone in his situation, he hopes to open many eyes to the reality of life for many veterans post war with unfortunate outcomes.

“Many of those veterans who are suffering with PTSD just don’t fit in with civilian life. Many are angry, afraid, irritable and just lost,” Peters said. “These veterans lose their appetites, their friends and any hope of recovering. Every night, they wake up in a cold sweat after having another nightmare.”

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that's triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it, such as war, a physical assault, or a disaster. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event, according to the Mayo Clinic. Getting effective treatment after PTSD symptoms develop can be critical to reduce symptoms and improve function.

“There are several million veterans who suffer from PTSD and many of them cannot -- for a number of reasons -- access the resources they need to treat it,” said Janna Williams, a United States Air Force veteran and founder of VET4U, a non-profit that advocates for and assists military veterans. “We need to work together to find the best ways to treat PTSD and assist the service members, Veterans and family members who are suffering from its impact.”

The walk leads up to the month of June, which has been designated PTSD Awareness Month.  Those seeking more information on PTSD, can go to http://www.ptsd.va.gov/index.asp or if living in Union County, can call the Union County Office of Veterans’ Affairs at 908-659-7407 for referral information or reach the office toll free, at 1-866-640-