Veteran visits Grass Valley while trekking across America to raise mental health awareness
Amid news reports of veterans who are homeless or in need of mental health services, one veteran is trying to bring more awareness to the mental health care needs of America’s real-life heroes.
Jake Sansing is trekking across America to do just that. He recently traveled through Grass Valley as he achieved reaching the West Coast, with Oregon and Washington still in his travel plans.
“I got out of the army in 2010 and shortly after I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, and sensory seizures,” Sansing said.
Originally from western Tennessee, the 27-year-old Sansing served as an infantryman with 5th Brigade 2nd Infantry Division. He said he spent his first few years out of the army doing audio engineering.
An avid outdoorsman, Sansing said he struggled with a health condition that kept him mostly indoors upon his return home.
“I had a heat stroke in the army and it messed with my body’s ability to cool itself properly,” he said. “ … During the summer months I had to stay in my apartment which was pretty depressing, because I love doing outdoors stuff.”
He eventually was able to embark on a long-distance bike ride that he described as “therapeutic” and eventually led to the trek he’s now making.
“In 2013, I rode a bike from Delaware to New Mexico and found it therapeutic but went back home to resume audio engineering. In July 2014, I survived a suicide attempt and decided to go live life,” he said. “Alaska seems like a great place for me. In August 2014, I sold everything I had and bought a bicycle along with the gear I’d need to make it happen.
“I made it 600 miles to Florida from Tennessee in just five days. I felt great already! I’ve been on the road for almost nine months and I’m still going strong despite all of the rude people I’ve had to deal with, the intense weather — tornadoes, lightning, snowstorms, sandstorms. You name it I’ve been through it.
“Some days are good and some days are bad but I just try to stay focused on my goal: raising mental health awareness, how goals and exercise help, and no matter how hard it is, you just have to see it through,” he added.
Sansing said he sold his bike in Utah and has been backpacking since.
Including his trip in 2013, he now has traveled through Tennessee, Washington D.C., Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky Arkansas, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and California.
“I just have Oregon and Washington left then I’m flying from Seattle to Anchorage where I’ll be calling home,” he said. “Once I’m in Anchorage I’ll continue working as a producer and audio engineer as well as writing a few books, and hopefully one day start a survival training camp.”
For more information on Jake Sansing and his trip across America, visit the Facebook page “Jake Does America.”
Amber White is a Nevada Union High School senior who is completing an internship with The Union.
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