It's our turn

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It was difficult not to get emotional while watching a replay of Arek Brock walking briskly toward his father as he arrived in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

The moment was far more important than Ken Brock completing his 2,650-mile walk from Amvets Post 86 in Keystone Heights to bring awareness to Wounded Warrior Project. It was about a son being witness to his father’s amazing transformation from indecision and solitude to a man who, at long last, was reassuming control of his own life.

Those who loved him most had doubt. So did Brock himself. They prayed he could find enough resolve to step away from his emotional shadows long enough to find peace. Making it from Keystone Heights to Coeur d’Alene in time for the Fourth of July parade to walk with his son, daughter and their families was well-intended. But not realistic.

The walk started Feb. 1. Days on the road turned to weeks; weeks turned to months. Doubt eventually was replaced by optimism, which soon was replaced by a confidence nobody thought possible.

Brock didn’t try to prove everyone wrong. He wanted to prove to himself he could work through the post-traumatic stress disorder that comes with investigating nine years of crimes and crashes.

“I still had nightmares on the road,” Brock said. “There were times when I wanted to crawl back in a hole and hide. But I pushed through it.”

The five-month journey was intended to turn a spotlight on Wounded Warrior Project’s PTSD programs, not the 54-year old U.S. Army veteran. Perhaps leaving room for failure, he didn’t get a warm sendoff. In fact, only a handful of people knew about his mission until Amvets Post 86 called us to publicize a Saturday night steak dinner fundraiser for Brock.

By then, he already was a month into the walk.

When I called him, he had just survived the first of two deadly waves of tornadoes in Alabama. He said the rolling hills were more difficult than he expected. He started to have concern whether he could stay on schedule.

A tractor-trailer sideswiped him in Scribner, Neb. The impact wrecked his supply cart and sent his service dog, Pam, sprawling. He made repairs and pushed ahead.

He went through devastating flooding in the heartland, snow and storms. The rolling hills that were so problematic two months earlier were trivial compared the pending challenges of the Rocky Mountains.

He still pushed ahead.

Brock rolled into Coeur d’Alene six days ahead of schedule. His son, a Kootenai County Sheriff deputy, was the first to greet him.

Now it’s our turn.

Brock will return home on July 14. He scheduled to arrive at the Amtrak station in Palatka at 8:02 a.m.

We should be there to celebrate his dedication to veterans at WWP, his resolve to push through deadly challenges on the road and a strength to create tools to finally live life on his own terms.

Ken Brock certainly will enjoy his time with his family in Idaho. He deserves every hug and kiss.

And there will be more to come when he gets home.

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