Marine Confronts PTSD Paddling The Entire Mississippi River

Lauren Burgoon
In 2,320 miles and 71 days, a Marine veteran confronts the demons of war.

The horrors of war live with veterans long after they're home. The nightmares, the anxiety, even continuing face death as fellow veterans succumb to their demons with suicide.

One Marine decided he need a project to get his PTSD -- the result of two tours in Afghanistan and injuries from a bomb blast -- in line. 

Josh Ploetz took off down the Mississippi River in a canoe to Paddle Off the War. In 71 days (51 spent in the canoe), Ploetz paddled from the mouth of the Mississippi River in Minnesota through to the Gulf of Mexico. 

It was a trip for himself, to find a way to confront what the war did to him. But along the way, Ploetz had plenty of support. A legion of followers hung on his every progress report. Those closest to him and strangers cheered him on.

And when he got to New Orleans, his Marine brothers were there too: 

In addition to giving himself healing time, Ploetz also wanted to raise awareness of PTSD among veterans. Suicide among veterans saw an alarming spike in recent years. An alarming 22 veterans per day -- one nearly every single hour -- commits suicide. Recent veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are most at risk. 

Ploetz wrapped up his trip earlier in the summer with a smile that says it all.