AUSTIN (KXAN) – Jeremy Robinson and his horse, Trooper, have spent months trotting along Texas roads from Huntsville to Austin, where he and Trooper will finish up their trek Saturday.
While Robinson has said the 1000+ mile journey has been a fulfilling experience, it’s not just a joy ride – Robinson, who’s a veteran, set out on this ride to raise awareness for issues affecting veterans.
“Our focus is homelessness,” he said. “The two largest issues within the veteran community revolve around homelessness and suicide. It’s my position that we lose a lot of our brothers and sisters to self-inflicted harm because they have a fear of becoming homeless,” Robinson continued.
The National Association of American Veterans estimates that over 16 million veterans live in the U.S., and over 40,000 are without homes. The organization also reports that around 13% of all U.S. veterans are living with mental health issues.
“Substance abuse, mental health, lack of community, isolation – all these things come together to create these problems. So we’re out making sure that everybody’s aware,” Robinson said.
Robinson and his organization, Rally Point, have aspirations of establishing an equestrian facility adjoined with a homestead to serve a community of veterans who may be at risk of being homeless.
“That’s what we’re trying to build. And the best way I could figure to get it off the ground was to put it in front of as many people as I possibly could. And along the way, we’ve met many of those people,” he said.
Robinson said he served in the U.S. Army from 2003 to 2009.
“I’ve been through some dark times myself – let myself get out of control and lost myself for a good while. These days, I seem to have found my center, found my soul and found a little bit of empathy,” he said.
“I was always blessed that I had a good network. I had a family, I had friends, at least a few people who continued to put up with me. When I came on hard times, I always had a couch to go to or a spare bedroom somewhere. But a lot of these guys – they don’t have that,” Robinson said.
“We should have some compassion for these guys. A little bit of empathy goes a long way.”