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The Walk of America: Q&A with Kevin Carr
Veteran Kevin Carr 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?
My name is Kevin Carr. I was born and brought up in South Shields with my Mam and younger brother (6 years younger). At 17 I joined the Army following a family tradition. Grandfather (Mum's side), Uncles and cousins have all served in various military services. I joined the Royal Logistic Corps and served in various locations for 5 years (plus 46 days) including Iraq.
After spending nearly 8 years as my Mam’s carer, juggling employment in the security industry and family difficulties, I found myself homeless and in a really bad place mentally. I was living in my car and on the streets, sometimes down at the sea front at South Shields too. I got so low I wanted to end my life and had planned to drive off a cliff but lucky for me a friend found and stopped me, got me to hospital where a mental health team arranged for me to move to The Beacon, where Walking with the Wounded fund a specialist Support worker. Through working with Lesley Swales I was told about the walk across America.
What does being involved with the project mean to you?
It means the world to me, it’s an opportunity for me to thank everyone I am involved with, who have supported me and to raise awareness of mental health and funds to ensure others do not have to reach the low place I got too before I was able to get help. It’s truly the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me. I can’t believe it, when I think of where I was at Christmas, I had moved into The Beacon and my mam had died suddenly of flu due to her COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). I didn’t think I could get any lower.
How does it feel to be working as part of a US/UK Transatlantic team?
It’s amazing, it gives me a chance to learn from others how they cope with things in the US. I love the Yank accent and their zest for life. It will also raise the US Knowledge of the amazing things Walking with the Wounded do. As well as the UK’s knowledge of the Wounded Warrior Project.
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 am looking forward to the challenge, it’s the biggest challenge of my life, I am looking forward to learning and experiencing the different States and learning about different cultures and meeting new people. The weather and terrain is not worrying me, I am excited by it all. I love a challenge, bring on the hills! I am not nervous just excited.
How does the walk compare to the other challenges you've faced in your life?
It’s the biggest challenge in my life other than the battle I have in my head. The best thing is although it’s a massive challenge it’s a really positive one, as it’s for the good.
How are you getting on with those small US/UK cultural - and language - differences within the team?
My only experience so far is through reading the stuff on the US Team, I expect we will get along just fine. I am looking forward to teaching them Geordie, the original language.
Have you met Prince Harry? How has he helped the project, and how is he inspiring you as you prepare for the big walk?
I met him at the launch, this is my one time. Simply by putting his name to it helps raise awareness of projects around mental health, in particular Walking With The Wounded. He was a very, very calming and inspiring person.
What's the first thing you'll do when you reach New York?
When I cross the finish line I will drop to my knees, I know I will be full of the sense of achievement and pride, it will be the biggest thing I have ever done.
Do you have any advice or words of wisdom to help others in times of need?
NEVER BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP, however hard this may seem there are others there just waiting to help, there is always someone there. It took me 14 years to find this out. If you are lucky enough to find yourself at The Beacon take all the help on offer, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
What aspect of being involved in the walk are you most proud of?
Representing Walking with the wounded and The Beacon. The chance to represent veterans and raise awareness of hidden injuries.
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.