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The Walk of America: Q&A with Jonny Burns
Veteran Jonny Burns tells us about participating in The Walk of America
Can you start by telling us a little about yourself – where you're from, and how you got involved in Walking with the Wounded and the upcoming Walk of America?
I’m 28 years old, served for 8 years and saw my life spiral out of control when I was medically discharged. I arrived at The Beacon in 2017 and immediately started working with Lesley our Home Straight representative for WWTW (Walking with the Wounded). I was involved with the Balmoral Challenge and signed up there and then to complete any other Challenges for WWTW, that I could. Being involved with Balmoral gave me the opportunity to socialise without feeling judged. I saw my confidence begin to return and felt the benefit that I could give to others. Lesley spoke to me about the pending Walk of America, at the same time as I had just read about it. I was keen to be considered.
What does being involved with the project mean to you?
It means that I can raise awareness of how difficult it is to adjust. It is a huge opportunity for me to inform others about help, support and structures available to them. For me personally it is a challenge of a lifetime, one that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
How does it feel to be working as part of a US/UK Transatlantic team?
It's massive, being chosen to represent WWTW and participate in America with Americans is awesome. It is a dream come true, it was and still is my ambition to move to the US and become an American Citizen.
Walking across a country the size of America is a big challenge, with plenty of different weather patterns and terrains. What are you looking forward to, what are you perhaps nervous about, ahead of such a big walk?
I can’t wait, bring it on ... if it rains, thunders and then the tornadoes, it’s all a dream come true. Yes, I’m nervous but equally excited at the prospect of what we can achieve as a Team.
How does the walk compare to the other challenges you've faced in your life?
Usually I’ve faced my challenges alone, mentally I’ve been through worse and physically I need this challenge to prove to myself, I'm not that mess that I sometimes see. I want to make a difference.
How are you getting on with those small US/UK cultural - and language - differences within the team?
Working with Kevin and his ‘Geordie’ accent is the challenge, the rest is easy! I’ve met Adele already and she’s absolutely amazing, I can’t wait.
Have you met Prince Harry? How has he helped the project, and how is he inspiring you as you prepare for the big walk?
Prince Harry was a gentleman, he put us at ease and offered words of wisdom. Having him give his support and the publicity for the walk is incredible and we all hope to honour him during our time away ... I understand he’s busy with an event of his own and wish him all the success with it.
What's the first thing you'll do when you reach New York?
I would like to walk around New York, see the sights and scream I’m here!!!! When I step off the plane in America there’s no looking back, it’s all forward!!
Do you have any advice or words of wisdom to help others in times of need?
Yes, open your mouth, the hardest part is asking, the rest is easy ...
What aspect of being involved in the walk are you most proud of?
I am here, I’m proud of all of us, the Team, the Sponsors, WWTW, the opportunity ... I’m overwhelmed and at times, I know I come across inaccurately. I question ... why me, am I good enough, do I deserve this?? But I know I will do my best and make WWTW proud. I can’t wait to get started... self-doubt has always been my issue but I’m back and ready to go.
The Walk of America sets off from California on June 2, with the team set to arrive in New York on September 6th. Find out how to support the Veterans, donate and learn more about Walking with the Wounded at www.wwtw.org.uk/WOA.
Check out our other Q&As with the team below.